When can we expect the Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft to reach End-of-life / stop flying?

The Next Generation is the name given to the −600/-700/-800/-900 series of the Boeing 737 airliner.

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    $\begingroup$ The cycles-limit can typically be extended if the operator so wishes, see (possible dupe): aviation.stackexchange.com/q/2263 $\endgroup$ – ymb1 Mar 12 '18 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ ......when they’re no longer airworthy and/or the operator discontinues using them? $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Mar 13 '18 at 13:44
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    $\begingroup$ Given that the 737-200 entered service in April 1968 and there are still a few dozen of those knocking around, I'd say "not for a long, long time". $\endgroup$ – Sean Sep 12 '18 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ For an airline, the decision to replace an aircraft is savings-based only. Either because the aircraft cannot be improved in an economical way (compared to buying a new model -- which possibly allows a new marketing strategy), or because maintenance becomes too expensive. There would be also another reason: Passengers don't want to fly on the old model, but this is unlikely to happen. $\endgroup$ – mins Nov 23 '18 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ Some passengers may not want to fly on the new shining model as well. $\endgroup$ – vasin1987 Jun 4 '19 at 23:22

Airliners aren't given "end-of-life" dates, unlike, say, Windows 95. They also don't eventually become "unsupported", like an iPhone.

A plane will be kept flying while it's safe and economical to do so.

In the case of a particular aircraft, that will depend on many things that have nothing to do with the aircraft itself (oil prices, perhaps) that make it uneconomical to operate.

Older planes are less fuel-efficient, and at a certain point a passenger airliner may be transferred to cargo duties (where fuel is a smaller proportion of the total cost of owning and operating it) and eventually, if no-one wants to keep flying it, it will be retired.

The point at which a plane becomes uneconomical to operate also has to do with how the aircraft is used - an aeroplane that has been through more pressurisation cycles will enter a more expensive regime of checks or maintenance sooner than one that has not (if an aeroplane will need to undergo more extensive checks for fatigue after say 50 thousand cycles, that might be the point at which an operator decides to replace it).

Almost any aircraft can in fact be kept safe to fly (if it were safe to fly in the first place) if you're willing to spend enough money doing so. This is why the comparison with iPhones and operating systems is instructive; probably nobody on earth has enough money to persuade Apple to keep providing iOS updates and manufacturing spare parts for the iPhone 4, but the economics of operating and obtaining spares and doing maintenance on 737s is quite a different matter.

The 737 −600/-700/-800/-900 models are still being produced, and past experience suggests that such aircraft have something like a 30-year working life span.

You never know however if unexpected events (like an oil crisis, or the discovery that airliners cause serious health issues in law-makers' children) will dramatically change the economic environment in which they operate - that's in the hands of fate.

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  • $\begingroup$ IIRC there is a hard cycle limit that can't be extended with any additional inspections. But it still means each aircraft has its own service life depending on when it was made and how utilized it is. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Jun 5 '19 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ To give a concrete example of the lack of end-of-life, the DC-3 (mostly built in the early 1940s) is still in commercial service. $\endgroup$ – Mark Mar 16 at 18:13

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