All posts tagged: 737-900
alaska Airlines Boeing 737-990/ER in the 2015 updated livery

It was about two months ago that I flew from San Diego to Orlando on Alaska Airlines to visit family, and I was very much looking forward to it because of how much I always enjoy flying with them (oh yeah, and seeing family is always nice too). I’ve never once had a bad experience on Alaska Airlines (knock on wood), so I was expecting nice things as I strolled into the airport that morning to check in for the flight.

Not only was I looking forward to the flight, I was very much looking forward to seeing what livery that plane to MCO would be wearing. Alaska Airlines unveiled an all-new livery and visual brand back in 2016, and somehow I’ve managed to avoid every single one of their airplanes that wear it so far. Considering that the majority of Alaska Airlines airplanes that I see nowadays are wearing that new livery, I figured my chances were pretty good as I walked up to the window to check her out.

Unfortunately, what I saw led me to assume that the plane that would be taking me to Orlando that morning was wearing the old livery (created way back in the mid-1990s), and you could almost hear the excitement and enthusiasm escape out of me with a high pressure “pssssshhhh!” as my face went blank. Yup, I was that disappointed.

Alaska Airlines 737-990/ER in the 2015 updated livery

Alaska Airlines 737-990/ER in the 2015 updated livery over a white background

Buy full size airliner illustration

Fast forward to last weekend, when I sat down to create the illustrations of this aircraft for the trip report for this segment over on my travel blog. I create highly detailed side-view renderings of all the aircraft that I fly on (weird, eh?), and I figured it was going to be really easy since I already created an illustration of the old Alaska Airlines livery on the 737-900 several years ago (and this 737-800 as well), and all that I would have to do is just update the registration number. Oh how wrong I was.

It turns out that this particular airplane wasn’t wearing the old livery at all (which I learned was actually nicknamed the “icicles” livery for obvious reasons). It was actually sporting the “updated” design that was unveiled in February 2015, which upon first glance, looks exactly the same as the old one. But it’s not until you look at a direct comparison of the two that you start to notice some differences:

alaska airlines livery comparison

Side by side comparison of the mid 1990’s Alaska Airlines “icicle” livery and the 2015 “updated” version

The biggest feature of this update was the modernization of the Alaska Airlines typeface – to put it in the simplest terms possible, they smoothed out the font to look more modern and a lot less like icicles. They also replaced the black accent colors with dark blue, which to be quite honest, is difficult to even notice unless you’re looking at the airplane under direct sunlight. It’s so dark as a matter of fact, that it still looks black under overcast conditions and I never would’ve even known this if I hadn’t found a slightly over exposed picture on the Internet of an airplane wearing this update. Who says over exposed pics are worthless?

Additional modifications included the removal of the green outline around the portrait of the Eskimo (Chester) on the vertical stabilizer, as well as an intricate (and swoopy) version of the dark blue and green stripe on the winglets.

I am happy to report that the airplane for the return flight home to San Diego was sporting that fancy new livery that had eluded me for so long. I’m going to be creating that illustration sometime within the next two days, and I’ll post it here to the blog next week.

737-900ER split scimitar side view

Sometimes I really wonder if starting this airliner template project was a good idea or not. Of course I really enjoy working on these highly detailed side-profile illustrations, but the sheer number of aircraft on my “to do” list has been overwhelming for much too long and the reality is that I’ll probably never get around to doing them all. That’s not a very comfortable feeling for me, primarily because having too much to do sends my anxiety levels through the roof (lol) and I never really feel satisfied that I’m making progress. But as long as I just focus on on aircraft at a time, things are more manageable and I can keep moving forward.

Today’s area of focus is squarely on the 737-900/ER. I created my original 737-900/ER template way back in 2014, but that one had the normal-style winglets and some missing details that I never got around to adding. The way that I shaded the all-white version had been bugging me as well (the shadows were much too dark IMHO), so I finally decided to dig it up from my archives and make some of those much-needed updates.

737-900ER split scimitar side view

A technical side profile line drawing of a Boeing 737-900/ER with split scimitar winglets over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

buy source file 737-900 scimitar airliner template

The biggest change is the addition of the split scimitar winglets. Most airlines seem to be opting for these over the older-style winglets, so I thought it was important to have this version in my collection for anyone needing it (which is a lot of you, since I’ve been getting a lot of requests for it). I’ve also added a few details, like the satellite communications dome on the top of the fuselage, as well as adding some window “blanks” to make it more realistic.

Finally, I spent some time adjusting all the shading and shadows, fixing all the problem areas which made the original template much too dark and muddy. It’s really hard to create a single style of shading for all my templates – my personal tastes and styles change over the years, and back then (when I first created this template), I was into very exaggerated and “strong” imagery. These days, I’m all about simplicity and cleanliness. I’d love to go back and fix all my earlier illustrations to bring them up to date with my current lighter style, but unfortunately, there aren’t enough hours in the day to take on a project that big!

Hope you enjoy this little update. The Boeing 737-7 MAX is on the drawing board and will be available soon.

United Airlines 737-900 "One Hundred"

It’s hard to believe the that the Boeing 737 is over 40 years old and it is still one of the best-selling commercial aircraft available at the moment. Of course the 737 of today is vastly superior to the 737 from 1969, but still – the fact that Boeing has managed to get so many years out of a single airframe is downright amazing. There aren’t many other products in this world that have had that much staying power.

And that leads me to this illustration of a United Airlines version of the -900 series – the newest (and largest) 737 from Boeing. I’ve already told you my thoughts on the current United livery, but I’ll say it again: they really need to separate from these colors to help project themselves as a new and different company. Taking the old Continental livery, removing the titles, and then slapping “United” on the forward part of the fuselage was an ok “temporary” solution after the two airlines merged, but they’ve really got to get past that and create a new brand from scratch.

There have been a lot of new re-branding efforts in the airline industry recently (the new American Airlines livery looks great), so it probably wouldn’t hurt them to take a chance and do something different. But I’ll just leave it at that.

This particular illustration depicts a very special aircraft in the UA fleet. It’s the “One Hundred” airframe, meaning that it’s dedicated to 100 exceptional employees (as voted by their peers) who go above and beyond. The markings for this are subtle, with a small decal next to the main titles on the fuselage, as well as a plaque mounted inside that is visible upon boarding.

blank side view 737-900

I’ve had a lot of requests to make a side view template of a Boeing 737-900, so I decided to go ahead and scratch that one off my list. It was a bit more involved than simply stretching my existing 737-800 drawing, as there were some minor wing and engine modifications that needed to be made – but for the most part it wasn’t that bad. At least I didn’t have to modify the fuselage (other than just stretching it). I’m still amazed that this same basic airframe first went into service in 1968. That’s over 40 years ago! Of course all the inner bits are not the same, but the 737 has truly stood the test of time.

side view line drawing 737-900

Technical line drawing of a Boeing 737-900

buy source file 737-900 airliner template

One minor difference between this -900 variant and all the others is that it needs a skid plate attached to the bottom section of the rear fuselage for protection from tail strikes. It’s not a significant piece of equipment, but you can see it clearly here on my drawings (at the very rear, right under the horizontal stabilizer). This is a very long airplane with very short landing gears, so there is a greater chance of scraping during rotation. I guess adding a little extra piece to the airframe was significantly cheaper than increasing how high this aircraft sits off the ground!

Other than that, there aren’t any major modifications that I had to make to convert my -800 template into the -900. Personally, I think that it looks too long, reconfirming my feeling that the 737-700 is the best size for this airframe (IMHO of course). Boeing has stretched the 737 as far as they can, and it would require major modifications to increase capacity any further. It would basically have to be an all new airframe at that point, and it seems to me like it would me much easier to start from scratch with an all new narrow body.

So now that I’ve created templates of all the current 737s, it’s time to go back in time and take care of the earlier generations. That’s a bit lower on my priority list though – I need to take care of the Boeing 757 first.