Boeing 757 pilot recalls when (with no passengers aboard) he and his captain did an unrestricted climb to 10,000 feet

Boeing 757 pilot explains why flying a 757 is like flying a 737 or A320 with a “high-performance upgrade package”, like comparing a BMW M5 to a 530i

By Dario Leone
Apr 2 2024
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The Boeing 757

The twin-engine, medium-range Boeing 757 was up to 80 percent more fuel efficient than the older 727 jetliners it was designed to replace but retained the 727’s short-field capability. The 757-200 carried up to 228 passengers and had a range of approximately 3,900 nautical miles (7,222 kilometers).

The first 757 rolled out of the Renton, Wash., factory in 1982. On Mar. 29, 1991, a 757, powered by only one of its engines, took off, circled and landed at the 11,621-foot-high (3542-meter-high) Gonggar Airport in Tibet. The airplane performed perfectly although the airfield was in a box canyon surrounded by peaks more than 16,400 feet (4998 meters) high.

Yet, despite its remarkable capabilities, in late 2003, Boeing decided to end 757 production. On Apr. 27, 2005 in fact, Boeing concluded the 23-year run of the 757 passenger airplane by delivering the final one to Shanghai Airlines. The airplane was the 1,050th Boeing 757.

Boeing 757 print
Boeing 757-200 – United Airlines. Commission your custom airliner prints at!

Boeing 757 performance unmatched

Nevertheless, many airlines still use the Boeing 757 because there is no proper alternative to it, as a 757 pilot who wishes to remain anonymous, explains on Quora;

‘That is exactly it. Several airlines are continuing to operate the 757, hoping that the new Boeing Middle-of-Market (MoM) or New Midsize Airplane (NMA) — which will most likely be called the 797 — will fill the gap left by the aging 757.

‘I currently fly the 757, as well as the 737 and A320 series, and the 757 is unique among airline-type airplanes. It fills a niche market — areas that need medium-to-high capacity airplanes (i.e. larger cities), but which are served by high-altitude and/or short-runway airports and are often separated from key connection markets by longer than short-haul distances (more than 3000 miles). Flying a 757 is like flying a 737 or A320 that has been given a “high-performance upgrade package” [as cool video below shows]. It’s like comparing a BMW M5 to a 530i.

‘This particular market is very limited outside of the Western Hemisphere, but the 757 has flourished in the Americas, flying in and out of tons of short-runway, high-altitude airports while carrying 200-plus passengers up to 4000 [nautical] miles.

‘The very latest entries by Boeing and Airbus — in particular the A321LR — can match the 757 for range and passenger-carrying, but not with the 757’s performance. For that, you need the A318/A319 or 737–700… but then you give up your range and/or passenger capacity.

Pilots and passengers all love it

‘The 757 is old-tech, too. The new MoM airplane will undoubtedly raise the bar to a 5000-plus-mile range and a passenger capacity of at least 250 passengers while retaining 757-like performance. Boeing’s marketing machine is strongly suggesting a “hybrid” non-cylindrical twin-aisle configuration, with 7-across seating, offering the aerodynamic benefits of a narrow-body airliner with a wider cabin.

‘There’s also a bit of “panache” surrounding the 757. It sticks out from the crowd as quite tall and large for a narrow-body airplane. Pilots and passengers all love it. I personally know more than one airline pilot who downgraded from airplanes like the 777 to the 757 because they “missed flying.” Passengers will go out of their way to fly on it. As a pilot, it’s a joy for me to fly. The newer 737s… you can tell by the feel that they were never meant to be as large as they are. The Airbus is, well… just a bus with a joystick.

‘As an Air Traffic Controller, I have also noticed one thing about the 757… It tends to cruise higher and faster than other traffic. When radar controllers are bored, they tend to look for this stuff. I used to bet other controllers on aircraft type, and whenever I saw a target passing overhead in the 40,000-plus altitude range at 500 knots-plus, I would always say, “I bet you that’s a Seven-Five.” It almost always was.’

Boeing 757 pilot recalls when (with no passengers aboard) he and his captain did an unrestricted climb to 10,000 feet
A Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 photographed taking off during a flight display at RIAT 2009

Photo credit: Tristan Thomas Own Work via Wikipedia

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.
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