Some passenger aircraft were more popular than others, and more of them were manufactured. But which jet airliners were the most produced in the history of aviation?
Turboprop and piston airliners are excluded from this list, although some of them – such as De Havilland Canada DHC Dash-8 (over 1,250 produced) or Antonov An-24 (over 1,370 produced) could have made it.
All numbers are from the late 2020, and are rounded up, as they are likely to change for most of the aircraft.
10. Boeing 767: Around 1,200 produced
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Boeing’s first wide-body twinjet was introduced in the early 80s to capitalize on the niche that the innovative Airbus A300 had opened. Together with the smaller and slightly less numerous Boeing 757, the 767 plugged the gap between smaller mainline aircraft and jumbo jets. It was succeeded and largely replaced with the similarly-sized Boeing 787 Dreamliner, but cargo versions of the 767 are still in production.
9. Embraer ERJ family: Over 1,230 produced
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Brazilian manufacturer’s family of regional jets consists of the ERJ135, the ERJ140 and the ERJ145 models, as well as numerous variants. They are variations of the same basic airframe, which is modified – lengthened or shortened – to accommodate the needs of different airlines. Introduced in the late 80s as a stretched and re-engined version of the EMB 120 Brasilia, the ERJ quickly became one of the most popular regional aircraft worldwide.
8. Airbus A330: Over 1,500 produced
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The most produced non-American wide-body jet, the A330 was born as one of the deeply reworked variants of the A300, with extended range and passenger capacity. It entered the market in 1994, and quickly became more popular than many older aircraft of well-established manufacturers. To this day, the A330 purchases generate significant part of Airbus’ revenue.
7. Boeing 747: over 1,550 produced
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The legendary Boeing 747 jumbo jet was the first wide-body twin-aisle aircraft ever and the first one to hit 1,000 units manufactured. It outlived – and will outlive – many competitors, as new 747s are still being manufactured, albeit mostly as freighters. While the latest generation, the 747-8, was not nearly as popular as Boeing hoped, it still proved that the original jumbo will remain with us for the foreseeable future.
6. Embraer E-jet family: over 1,570 produced
Embraer’s most popular creation, E-jets are a bit larger than your average regional jet and compete with smaller variants of the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737. The family consists of the E170, E175, E190 and E195 models. Recently, it was succeeded by the overhauled and upgraded E-jet E2, but the new airplane has barely entered production and Embraer continues to manufacture older models, meaning that the number is likely to grow in the future.
5. Boeing 777: over 1,640 produced
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The revolutionary Boeing 777 is the world’s largest twinjet, as well as the most-produced wide-body aircraft, overshooting its larger brother the 747 and even succeeding it with the latest 777-9 variant, dubbed “mini-jumbo”. The troubles with the latest generation, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, have significantly impacted its production rates, but when the demand for long-range travel returns after the crisis, the 777 is likely to be on the front of the surge.
4. Boeing 727: over 1,830 produced
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Born in the early 60s as a smaller counterpart to Boeing’s original 707 qadjet, the 727 quickly proved to be incredibly popular on short and medium-range routes, becoming one of the manufacturer’s most popular models. It was produced up until the mid-80s and the last commercial flight of the 727 happened in 2019.
3. Bombardier CRJ family: over 1,900 produced
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Bombardier claims the CRJ to be the world’s most produced regional jet and it is very likely to be so. The family consists of two generations: the earlier CRJ100 and CRJ200, and the later CRJ700 series (CRJ700, CRJ800, CRJ900 and CRJ1000). Outcompeting and outliving many competitors, the long-running CRJ programme was acquired by Japanese Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in mid-2020. However, the production is likely to stop soon.
2. Airbus A320 family: over 9,570 produced
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Leaving the third place behind with almost five-fold increase in numbers, the A320 stands as a reminder of how popular mainline jets are and how large is the market. Airbus started manufacturing their first narrow-body jet only in the late 80s, but managed to reach some incredible production speeds, churning over 60 jets per month before the onset of the pandemic.
The family consists of A318, A319, A320 and A321 jets and their numerous modifications, including the latest “neo” generation. Even if we exclude smaller and larger models, only the family’s namesake – the A320 – is enough to make second place on this list, with almost 6,000 of them having been delivered to airlines.
1. Boeing 737 family: over 10,580 produced
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Four generations, 13 models, and countless variants. The 737 is a workhorse in many world’s airlines and has been like that since the 60s. In comparison with its latest iteration – the 737 MAX – the original Boeing 737-100 was almost a regional jet, bearing little resemblance to what the family would eventually become.
But as the years go by, the ageing airframe becomes more and more difficult to modify and adapt. It is likely that the 737 will leave the first place of this list soon, as the Airbus A320 is creeping up on it quickly. Boeing has been planning to replace the 737 with a completely new model at least since 2009, but rushed the 737 MAX into production instead – a decision which resulted in two tragic crashes and possibly the largest crisis the company has ever experienced. Quite likely, the freshly ungrounded MAX is the last generation of the legendary 737, but as of late 2020, it cements the aircraft’s position as the most produced jet airliner ever.