If you travel on airlines with any frequency, odds are you are one of the more than 16.8 billion people who have flown on the Boeing 737, the fuselage of which has been built in Wichita for more than 50 years.
On Friday, hundreds of Spirit AeroSystems employees joined CEO Tom Gentile and federal, state and local elected officials at a ceremony to mark the aircraft supplier's delivery of the 10,000th 737 shipset to Boeing. The shipset — the fuselage, wing and engine components for one plane — was delivered to Boeing in Renton, Wash., on Feb. 14. Boeing is expected to deliver the fully assembled Boeing 737 Max to Southwest Airlines next week, Spirit officials said.
Spirit, with its 11,500 Wichita employees, makes 70 percent of the 737 for Boeing. Last year, that plane generated 49 percent of Spirit's $7 billion in revenue.
The narrowbody jet is also one of the reasons Spirit plans to add 1,000 new jobs in the next two years. The company now produces 52 shipsets for the plane each month and is expected to increase that to 57 each month next year. Boeing's order backlog for the 737 stood at 4,668 at the end of 2017.
Here are a few other facts about the airplane Wichitans have been building for more than five decades, according to Spirit:
- 25 percent of the world's large jet fleet are 737s
- The number of 737s in the air at any one time is about 1,000
- The 737 is the best-selling and longest, continuously produced commercial airliner of all time
- As many as four generations of Wichita families have worked on the 737 since Boeing launched the program in 1966
- Each 737 fuselage produced by Spirit has more than 25,000 parts