Recently, Flight-Report.com had the opportunity to take part in the delivery process of a new Transavia Boeing 737. Please join us as we head behind the scenes of the 737: from the factory to arrival at the airline hub.
The arrival of a new aircraft in an airline’s fleet is an interesting process that goes through many stages. For Boeing’s airline customers, it all begins in Seattle, Washington, Boeing’s hometown.
The 737 is Boeing’s most popular aircraft. In fact, it is the world’s best-selling aircraft of all time. Boeing 737 customers may visit the special 737 “configuration studio” where, inside this large building, airlines make interior design decision.
The day begins with a presentation by a Boeing representative. In the presentation, he stresses the importance and dynamism of the European market.
Nathalie Stubler, CEO of Transavia France, takes her turn to speak to the group with a short presentation on the identity and positioning of the low-cost subsidiary of the Air France-KLM group. She explains that Transavia has differentiated itself from its direct Low-cost competition in the European market by bringing more comfort and care to the table, in her words “Low cost with care”.
The Transavia CEO also explains that the airline’s 28th aircraft, which is due to enter the fleet the next day, will serve to reinforce some high performing destinations, such as Porto, as well as allow for new routes to be open, like the upcoming Paris to Tivat, Montenegro route.
According to Transavia, maintaining a good relationship with customers is based on two pillars. The first pillar is making a good impression with face-to-face contact. A real effort is made by airline staff and cabin crew on a daily basis to offer friendly service. Transavia’s high levels of customer service have been confirmed by internal studies and customer reviews: Transavia was recently awarded “Best European Low-cost airline” based on passenger reviews on Flight-Report.com. The second pillar rests on new forms of digital communication with a fully responsive website, and a healthy presence on social media.
In the Boeing 737 studio, Boeing customers have the option to choose the materials that will constitute the upholstery of their cabin interiors. In reality, few airlines actually go through this area as many design and material decisions are taken further upstream in the process for brand consistency.
Flipping through the endless possibilities of interior design choices can be a fun experience for an airline geek or aircraft interiors enthusiast.
One of the main purposes of this this area is to showcase Boeing’s innovations in cabin layouts, especially when it comes to lavatories and galleys. New, more efficient space-saving configurations in these areas allow carriers to add seats, increasing revenue.
Several years ago, Boeing introduced these larger overhead bins to accommodate the ever-increasing volume of carry-on bags.
By placing large roll-aboard carry-ons on their side, the larger bins can handle 6 bags, a 50% increase over the normal capacity of 4 per bin. Generally, one overhead bin in Economy class covers 2 rows, or 6 seats, therefore the larger capacity theoretically allows for all Economy passengers to have space to stow a carry-on.
One of the main criticisms of the Space Bin is that it lowers the ceiling height over passenger’s heads.
The nerve center of the “Configuration Studio” is, of course, where the most essential element of the cabins are chosen: the seats. In the 737 Configuration Studio, only short/medium-haul type seats are on display, although many of these types of seats can be used on long-haul aircraft as well. The reverse is not necessarily true; however, especially when it comes to premium seats.
One of the biggest aircraft seat manufacturers, German company Recaro, has several variations of the same seat model on display. From a “Euro-Biz” type with blocked middle seat on the left, to a lighter low-cost version on the right.
Some interesting and comfortable seat models are displayed on the show room floor, such as this regional Business class or long-haul Premium Economy type seat.
Unlike some fixed shell Premium Economy seats, these seats actually recline.
The seat design allows for a comfortable angle of recline without impeding on the space of the passenger behind.
Such high-end and innovative seats can be costly—the majority of carriers outfit their short/medium haul premium cabins with more traditional seat models, such as this one.
Onboard entertainment is also an essential part of the passenger experience. In this market, two main players stand out: Panasonic
But Boeing doesn’t just have seats and materials to showcase to its customers, there are life-size reproductions of aircraft cabins where customers can get a look around a fully-finished cabin. Let’s pay a visit to the Boeing Customer Experience Center.
Access to the Boeing Customer Experience Center is exclusively reserved to customers. At the entrance to the large building are some very nice large scale models of Boeing aircraft, including this Sonic Cruiser, a concept high-subsonic speed aircraft that never came to be.
Some concepts do come to fruition, such as this 7E7, with its signature shark tail, that developed into the 787.
Each Being aircraft still in production from the the 737 to the 747-8i has a life-sized cabin mock-up at the Boeing Customer Experience Center.
Let’s start with the Boeing 737 mock-up equipped with Recaro seats.
There are several versions of seats inside with rows configured at different seat pitches for comparison. Here we have a row of seats with padded headrests pitched at 30”
Compared to its main competitor, the 737 fuselage is more narrow. However, Boeing Sales and Marketing agents at the Boeing Customer Experience center explain that this fuselage, inherited from the Boeing 727 attests to the longevity and success of Boeing’s narrowbody design, with the same fuselage cross-section design still in use over 50 years later.
While the 737 cabin may be narrower than its direct competition, the Boeing Sky Interior design gives an impression of space with its high, sculpted ceilings.
Moodlighting, available in many color options, has become a must for modern cabin interiors.
Here, we have a very Transavia-esque green.
On to the 787 Dreamliner. One of the most striking features of the 787 is the lofty and spacious entrance. The entrance has the most impact when the space it left open like this, without bulkheads to cut up the space.
Lovey sculpted ceilings—the 787 interior design and 737 Sky Interior share many design elements.
At the front of the 787 cabin mock-up, we find the star product of French seat-maker Zodiac Aerospace: the Cirrus Business class seat.
Just behind, another Zodiac product, the Aura seat. This has proven to be a very popular seat model for many carrier’s 787. The Aura can be found on the dreamliners of Air Austral, Air India, Azerbaijan Airlines, China Southern, Hainan, Kenya Airways, LOT Polish, Oman Air, Royal Brunei, Uzbekistan Airways and Xiamen Airlines.
In the Economy class section of the 787 mock-up we find the all-too-rare and very comfortable 2-4-2 configuration. Although originally conceived as the standard configuration, all Boeing customers have opted for the higher density 3-3-3 layout, with the notable exception of Japan Air Lines.
And here we have the new standard 9-abreast layout.
The seat backs are adorned with Panasonic IFE with a particularly wide screen.
Last on our visit of the Boeing Customer Experience Center is the Boeing 747-8i mock-up. Unfortunately, this latest stretched model of the Boeing jumbo jet has not been a huge commercial success like its predecessors. In the VLA (Very Large Aircraft) market, it seems most carriers opted for the larger Airbus A380.
The entrance to the 747-8i mockup is beautiful.
The curved staircase of the -8i is much more chic than those on older models.
While the 747-8i is only in passenger service with three airlines (Lufthansa, Korean Air, and Air China), it has been rather popular as a VIP private jet.
The mock-up features a Business class in a 2-3-2 configuration, though carriers operating the 747-8i all opted for different 2-2-2 configurations.
In the legendary nose of the Queen of the Skies we find some futuristic First class seats
More Business class seating in the rear section of the upper deck.
At the very front of the upper deck are different layouts for VIP configurations.
A seat with adjoining a bed: an option that is reminiscent of the former 747-400 Lufthansa First class.
After this exciting visit behind the scenes of the aircraft interiors world, it is time to head to Boeing’s 737 factory in Renton, south of Seattle, where Boeing aircraft have been manufactured for more than 70 years!
The fuselages that arrive in this building have traveled more than 3000 km by train from the Spirit AeroSystems plant in Wichita, Kansas.
They are then prepared on the assembly line and then lifted into position with the help of huge cranes. The assembly line, where 737s are lined up, moves slowly but surely. Though at a pace of around 5cm per hour, it’s not quite noticeable.
An impressive 47 Boeing 737s come out of Renton every month.
This brand-new Boeing 737-900NG will join the Delta Air Lines fleet in just 5 days.
Safety is the priority in such a large and complex factory setting.
Winglets can help identify the future airline of unpainted 737s. Here we have 9air, the low-cost subsidiary of Chinese carrier Juneyao Airlines (Star Alliance).
If you think this area is huge, there’s a whole other side where the 737 MAX are manufactured.
Photography was prohibited on the 737 MAX line.
Once completed, the Boeing 737s that come out of Renton fly to either Moses Lakes (MWH) or Boeing Field (BFI) for testing.
Generally, 2 test flights are carried out by Boeing (B1 and B2) and 1 or 2 tests by customers (C1 and C2). This is completed 1 to 2 days before delivery. Transavia’s new 737, registered F-HTVF had a quick C2 lasting 27 minutes.
Trip taken by Florent as a guest of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Transavia France .