How does the Boeing 737-900ER differ from its standard counterpart?

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Ever wondered what the difference is between Boeing 737-900 and 737-900ER? They’re minor, but change the features to create a more efficient, longer-range aircraft from the same fuselage and tail section, while maintaining more than 95% parts commonality with other next-generation Boeing 737 designs, and you’ve got a new option.

Birth of the 737-900 and 737-900ER

In accordance with The Boeing 737: The World’s Most Controversial Commercial Jet Graham M. Simons, Boeing 737-900 was born in April 1997.


… to compete with the 185/220 seat, Airbus A321. It featured a 7’10” fuselage extension, giving it an overall length of 138’3″, effectively making it longer than the 707-120. The 900 has nine percent more cabin space and eighteen percent more cargo space than the -800; however, Boeing chose to use the same NG emergency exit layout, with four main exits and four overwing exits, thereby limiting the maximum passenger load to 189.

Boeing 737-900 feet over PDX runway in Alaska Airlines livery

Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple flight

-900 will not be very popular with only 52 orders. Orders came only from six airlines – initial customers Alaska Airlines, KLM, Jet Airways, Korean Air, Shenzen Airlines and United Airlines. This will result in the 737-900 needing more capabilities to be marketable.

The limited number of seats meant that airlines had little incentive to upgrade to the 737-900, which only held a dozen passengers at best. Meanwhile, the A321-200 could carry 200-220 passengers, quickly attracting customers looking for economical ways to fly short and medium routes. However, Boeing was not about to quit and upgraded the 737-900 to make it more competitive.

Again, according to Simons, the -900ER was created by adding capacity to 215 passengers in single-class seating and…

…adding a pair of Type II doors aft of the wing for passenger evacuation regulations and installing a new flattened aft bulkhead which will add extra fuselage frame (about one row of seats) in the cabin. A flat bulkhead became standard on all 737s from 2006, and Type II doors also became standard on all 900 series, although operators could choose to deactivate it. Range increased to 3,200 nautical miles with the addition of two 1,970 liter [520 gallons] auxiliary fuel tanks, or 2,800 nautical miles without and additional wings. The 900ER had strengthened landing gear legs, wing box and keel beam to handle the increased maximum takeoff weight of 187,700 pounds.

Boeing_737-900ER of Lion Air, PK-LHU

-900ER, according to ch-aviation.com, received 505 orders not only from Alaska Airlines, but also from many other airlines, including Salmon Air, which uses a 737-900ER to connect between Dushanbe, Tajikistan and Munich, Germany. Lion airfirst customer -900ER, after all bought 66 of them.

The popularity of the 737-900ER fueled demand from airlines for larger single-aisle jets, a trend that continues to this day. Since the first 737-900ER was delivered in 2009, both Boeing and Airbus have worked hard to offer modern versions of their flagship narrow-body aircraft, the A321neo and the 737 MAX 10. More on those in a minute.


Even with its heavier weight, the -900ER has a longer range and is more fuel efficient. It helps that with a flat rear bulkhead and a smaller main cabin, nine more seats can be accommodated in the same 138 ft 2 in (42.11 m) fuselage. This results in a more efficient Boeing 737. As then-president Brad Tilden said in Alaska Airlines statement in 2012,

“In addition to cabin improvements, the 737-900ER also has environmental benefits. For example, on a flight between Seattle and Newark, New Jersey, the 737-900ER uses 3 percent fewer gallons per seat than the 737-900. .”

N224AK In KSEA Finals Sunset_2022-04-12
Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple flight

Additionally, the 737-900ER is intended to attempt to replace the Boeing 757-200 in the 737 lineup. However, even though Alaska Airlines has never operated a 757, the airline, according to the aforementioned statement, will use the 737-900ER to 737-400 replacements with greater capacity, efficiency and range to allow Alaska Airlines to grow.

737-900 vs. 737-900ER

Below is a simple table of the main differences and similarities between the two gliders:

737-900 737-900ER
Range 2800 nm 3280 nm
Places (2nd grade) 178 187
Seats (1st class) 189 215
Length 42.1 m (138 ft 2 in) 42.1 m (138 ft 2 in)
Wingspan 35.8 m (117 ft 5 in) 35.8 m (117 ft 5 in)
Height 12.5 m (41 ft 3 in) 12.5 m (41 ft 3 in)
Boeing 737 MAX 10 of United Airlines

Photo: Boeing

Since the release of the -900ER in 2007, Boeing has launched the MAX program, which should offer the jet even greater efficiency. The successor to the 737-900ER is to become MAXIMUM 10, which will have a maximum capacity of 230 passengers and can fly 3,300 nautical miles (slightly ahead of its predecessor). While the MAX 10 is still several years away from delivery, the legacy of the -900ER lives on and the type will likely continue to fly for several more years before being retired.

Which do you prefer, 737-900 or 737-900ER? Have you ever flown in any type of aircraft? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

https://simpleflying.com/boeing-737-900-er-vs-737-900/ How does the Boeing 737-900ER differ from its standard counterpart?

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