The Birth of Bobby

Boeing 737-300

It was mainly demand from Lufthansa that persuaded Boeing to build its 737. The German airline wanted an efficient, short-range aircraft powered by modern jet engines. Like its big brother the 747 it soon got its own nickname

Boeing 737-300

Lufthansa’s first Boeing 737 went into service in 1968. The plane in this picture is named after the town of Kempten and was the fifth 737 delivered to the airline

© Deutsche Lufthansa AG
Boeing 737-300

Boeing and Lufthansa organized a ceremony in 1986 to celebrate their long and excellent business relationship. The German airline had just taken delivery of another 737 – the 200th aircraft supplied to it by the American manufacturer

© Deutsche Lufthansa AG

Lufthansa was the first airline to place an order for several Boeing 737 aircraft back in 1965. At that time jet engines had replaced propellers on long- and medium-haul routes because jet aircraft were faster. But Boeing nearly missed the bus when a similar trend set in for smaller aircraft as well.

Competitors like British Aircraft Corporation und Douglas were already getting their short-range jets into commercial service by 1965. Although Boeing was well behind them, it caught up pretty quickly, mainly by using technologies that had proved themselves in service in Boeing’s larger 707 and 727 aircraft. Lufthansa was able to bring the first 737 into service in 1968.

Just as the 747 was dubbed the “Jumbo Jet” when it appeared on the scene some years later, the 737 quickly acquired a nickname: Bobby. Lufthansa gave this name to the hero in a children’s book handed out to its junior passengers during the early 1970s. The original 737 model was followed in the 1980s by several updated versions, including the 737-300 and the 737-500 currently used by Lufthansa. Development of the 737 family is still going on today.