Flight BER32: anna.aero goes to Seattle to collect airberlin’s latest 737!

Handing over the keys for airberlin’s ninth and last new 737NG this year: Boeing’s VP 737 Field and Delivery John Pricco passes the keys to Captain Tim Techt, airberlin’s Technical Pilot (Boeing Fleet and 737 Line Training).

Earlier this month, our friends at airberlin took anna.aero on a special trip to Boeing in Seattle to pick up a brand new Next-Generation 737 and deliver it back to airberlin HQ at Berlin Tegel.

Despite its recent turbulence and route cutbacks, airberlin still holds orders for at least 70 new Boeing and Airbus aircraft, including 737s, 787s and A320 family aircraft, although 19 out of 50 deliveries initially scheduled for 2012-13 have been postponed to 2015-16, cutting airberlin’s investment requirements by $1.6bn over the next two years.

airberlin’s latest aircraft, its 737-800 D-ABMB was delivered to Berlin Tegel on 1 December…anna.aero was honoured to be an invited guest for the delivery flight, which included detailed product briefings by Boeing executives in Seattle.

Making 42 737s a month by mid-2014

With the speeding up of monthly production of 737s to 35 in December, Boeing is still just behind Airbus’ narrowbody production – 36 in October – on average its European competitor delivered three more narrowbodies per month in 2011. However, with its re-designed production line, Boeing hopes to take the lead by speeding up 737 output to 42 a month by mid-2014. Meanwhile, the new 787 will be produced four times faster than present at a production rate of 10 per month by the third quarter 2013 – seven at Everett, WA, and three at Boeing’s 100% RES (renewable energy) factory in Charleston, CA.

Believe it or not, these 737 hulls arriving by train from Kansas at the final assembly hall in Renton are only 11 days away from their first flight. By speeding up 737 production to 35 a month, Boeing is now just behind Airbus’ narrowbody output.

For the 737NGs, which are available with Sky Interior since October 2010, the manufacturer still has over 6,000 firm orders from 132 customers. In line with its on-going fleet renewal and its environmental commitment, airberlin signed up for Next-Generation 737s with sky interior and advanced engine technology. The latter, as Boeing claims, leads to a 2% reduction in fuel burn and 4% lower maintenance costs. According to airberlin, these modifications will allow it to save nearly 9,000 tonnes of CO2 in one year, an equivalent of 230 return flights from Berlin to Mallorca with a 737-800.

Captain Tim Techt and Captain Josef Hartl take off from Boeing Field on flight BER32 heading for Berlin Tegel (via a snowy Keflavik airport).

D-ABMB – the story of delivery

airberlin’s delivery team – consisting of one delivery captain, one co-pilot, engineering personnel and crew – arrived at Seattle some five days prior to the delivery flight. During this time the “customer walk” takes place. It is a “flight without the flight – we follow all the flight procedures, but we don’t take off”, explained airberlin’s Technical Pilot Boeing Fleet and 737 Line Training Captain Tim Techt. The plane is inspected thoroughly in search any minor defaults. Once adjusted, the real (but not mandatory) “customer flight” (C1) takes place. Here, the airberlin delivery captain and one Boeing pilot carry out flight control checks according to standard test procedures. One to three touch-and-go landings are also part of this, as well as a thorough check of emergency systems. Besides all this testing, the aircraft documentation also has to be checked by the crew, who refer to the not-so-popular 4,000 pages reading as: “The dirty finger print”.

Once the customer flights are completed successfully and the team is satisfied with the product (and the money is transferred!!) the aircraft officially changes ownership. airberlin’s typical delivery routing takes the team from Seattle to Berlin Tegel via a fuel stop in Keflavik, Iceland. And once landed safely at its hub airport, it will be re-inspected by airberlin ground personnel and the German aviation authorities to certify and prepare the aircraft for commercial flights. On Sunday 4 December, D-ABMB entered into service, operating its first commercial flight from Berlin Tegel to Munich.

The anna.aero airberlin/Boeing itinerary:

Sunday, November 27

Departure from Düsseldorf with airberlin flight AB7450; Business Class!!!

Transfer to the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park.

Flight from JFK to Seattle with American Airlines AA269. Stay in Hotel W.

Tuesday, November 29

Product Briefings: Next-Generation 737, BSI, 787; Boeing Customer Experience Center (CEC).

Main Briefer – Anita Polt, Product Marketing Regional Director.

Environmental Briefer – Mike Hurd.

airberlin Briefing – Technical Pilot Tim Techt.

Customer Experience Center Tour.

Interior Mock-Up Tour– 787, 747-8I, 737 (Briefer – Kent Craver).

Transfer to Renton Factory.

Renton 737 Final Assembly Production Walk (Executive Briefer – Erik Nelson, 737 Manufacturing Operations Communication Escort).

Transfer from Renton to Everett.

Exclusive guided factory tour on golf carts.

Transfer to Future of Flight Strato deck.

Visit to the Boeing Store (buy Dreamliner coffee mug for anna.aero publisher).

Delivery Dinner with Boeing and airberlin at the Restaurant Palisade.

Wednesday, November 30

Tour of Museum of Flight followed by transfer to Boeing Field.

Delivery Ceremony with airberlin and Boeing.

Departure of flight BER32 with the new Boeing D-ABMB from Seattle to Berlin Tegel with fuel stop in Keflavik.

Thursday, December 1

Arrival at Berlin Tegel Airport.

Sunday, December 4

D-ABMB enters commercial service operating Berlin-Munich.


  1. Mitch says:

    Great article. FYI Boeing’s new 787 factory is in Charleston, South Carolina, and not in California 🙂

  2. brad says:

    Correct. CHS. And this is significant…

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