• Head-2-Head: Boeing 737 200/500/700

    Head-2-Head: Boeing 737 200/500/700

    By Ron Blehm

    Well, we haven't seen a Head-2-Head article in a while and I think the biggest reason is that we have found that it's too easy to make some CFG changes to increase/decrease engine or fuel performance as well as weights. What's the point of pitting A vs B when you can tweak two lines of text and make A twice as fast or give it four-times the range of B? But alas, I'm back.

    Three years ago I did this challenge and since that time I have not set foot into an A318 nor a 737-700! I still prefer the smaller E-jets but also have been flying a few 735s and even more recently a concept replacement for the entire 737-family.

    Well, after a long and "painful" Trans-Con stuffed into an over-crowded B739 I got to thinking again (fondly) of the generations of "Baby Boeings". So, I pulled the -500 out of the hangar (by FFX / Erick Cantu). I pulled the -200 out of mothballs (by FFX / Erick Cantu) and I downloaded a -700 once again (Project Open Sky). (The -500 and the -700 were featured in Head-2-Head XV noted above).

    The first thing I noted, because you all had asked, was that the -200 was the lightest when empty but the heaviest MTOW versus the -700 was the heaviest when empty and the lightest MTOW. So theoretically the -200 can haul more stuff into more places. Although I never tested the -200, I remember how the -700 ran right off the cliff trying to land at Catalina! So, let's see what these puppies can do!

    My joystick/yoke recently died and with kids headed to college I haven't invested in a replacement as yet so all of these flights were to be fully-coupled autopilot flights. Challenge one: LAX to the Channel Islands to Burbank (108 miles) - 5,000 feet - 245 knots - ILS Landing.

    Stats Photo

    I loaded in 30% fuel and balanced the rest of the load to 75% of MTOW (listed in the stats). From the end of 25R at LAX I throttled to 85%, released the brakes and hit the stopwatch. The -200 was the slowest to reach 245 knots but all aircraft climbed to 3,000 feet (1,200 fpm) in just under three minutes. While I wasn't measuring takeoff distance this time I rotated at 150 knots, pulled up the gear and flaps and engaged autoflight. In that amount of time you should note that the -700 continued accelerating up to 300 knots, screaming through the overspeed warnings until the autothrottles sluggishly pulled back. As alluded to in the previous article, the -700 seemed sluggish and slow-to-respond.

    So, we made the turn over the Channel Islands and flew over Thousand Oaks until the ILS came alive at which point I slowed to 145 knots and clicked autoland. Again (as noted before) the -700 refused to slow down! Finally, with everything locked my goal was to ride Otto down to 50 feet before disconnecting and flaring. The -200 worked marvelously, hitting the touchdown marks and slowing easily with reverse thrust. The autopilot on both the -500 and the -700 disconnected at 100 feet AGL and both aircraft pitched up! This forced a hand-flown (keyboard flying sucks) correction resulting in a long and "brisk" landing. The -500 was the worst, safe and non-fatal (no crash registered with realism to sliders to max) but maybe that's because the -700 is sluggish?


    Challenge two: Climb to FL290 and hold 290 knots for a 733-mile flight to compare fuel range. Although the -200 was the slowest to reach 245 knots in the last challenge, it had the lowest N1 requirement at all altitudes. Maybe it's still overpowered? The -500 and -700 seemed comparable in cruise although the -700 couldn't maintain 290 knots whilst climbing. Given the same speed at the same altitude, all aircraft arrived over the waypoints at roughly the same time.


    What was interesting is then using that fuel burn (see STATS PHOTO above) to calculate fuel range for each aircraft (individual results may vary).

    My plan: While we don't want all of our planes to "feel" the same, it seems that I need to do some work.

    1. Maybe back the power off of the -200? Maybe 7% less?
    2. Increase the MTOW of the -500 and -700 allowing bigger payloads
    3. Increase the fuel range (decrease the rate of burn) of the -700 (it's supposed to be the longest-range 737)
    4. Increase the parasitic drag of the -700 so that I can slow down. (use autobrakes?)
    5. Know that the -500 and -700 don't "autoland"!

    Any other suggestions from you lot?

    So, even though FSX (and these models) aren't the newest thing out there, for fans of freeware 737s, these three provide some good entertainment value. Enjoy!

    Aircraft Used:

    Boeing 737-200 by FFX/Erick Cantu.
    Boeing 737-500 by FFX/Erick Cantu.
    Boeing 737-700 by Project Open Sky.

    Ron Blehm

    Tags: boeing 737

    1. target1331's Avatar
      target1331 -
      Interesting, and sounds like as suggested, all need a bit of tuning.

      Best regards,

    1. flightman's Avatar
      flightman -
      MTOW for the 737-500 and 737-700 look low while the 737-200 looks high. Not your fault but data in sim model documentation and cfg files can't always be relied on.

      737-700 should be 171,000 lb
      737-500 should be 133,500 lb
      737-200adv should be 128,100 lb (interestingly, the same as your 75% figure)

      The relative fuel burns given by those sim models looks suspect too. The 737-200 should have much higher fuel burn than either the -500 or the -700. That is after all why the 737-200 was phased out.

      I would say all need a lot of tuning to get them comparable with each other and reality.


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