The 1970s were a golden era for Boeing. The launch of the 747 and the success of the 727 had catapulted the company to new heights. In a bid to keep their competitive edge Boeing began the process of looking for a successor for their 727-200 trijet, which was the best-selling jetliner at the time.
Rapidly increasing oil prices during the 1970s prompted airlines to focus on operating costs. Airlines expressed interest in modern, fuel-efficient, and technologically-advanced jetliners that were purpose-built to reduce costs.
In response Boeing to begin the clean sheet 7N7 program. The result of the 7N7 was the 757, a narrow-body twinjet. It was designed to surpass its predecessor, the wildly successful 727, in every conceivable manner.
The airlines wanted more than lower operation costs. The 757 was envisioned to be a go-anywhere jet. It needed to be able to fly to smaller airports at high-density altitudes. Boeing’s solution was to outfit the jet with powerful engines and keep its BEW low. The combination earned the 757 the moniker of “pocket-rocket”.
The Boeing 757 was in production for 23 years from 1981 to 2004. During that time 1,049 aircraft were built. 913 of the original 757-200 passenger variant, 80 757-200PF were delivered to cargo carriers such as UPS and DHL, and a single multipurpose 757-200M convertible model was bought for both cargo and passenger operations.
55 of the less successful 757-300 stretched variant was built from 1999 to 2004.
The 757 have been in service for four decades now, and as of December 2020, 625 were still in service. Most of the passenger models have been given a new lease on life as cargo freighters. The conversions, designated 757-200PCF, are undertaken by licensed outfits Precision Aircraft Solutions and ST Engineering.
Boeing 757 Specifications
|Length||47.32 m (155 ft 3 in)||54.47 m (178 ft 7 in)|
|Height||13.56 m (44 ft 6 in)|
|Wingspan||38.05 m (124 ft 10 in)|
|Wing Area||185.25 m² (1994 ft²)|
|Wing Aspect Ratio||7.8|
|Wheel Track||7.32 m (24 ft)|
|Wheel Base||18.29 m (60 ft)|
|Length||36.09 m (118 ft 5 in)||43.21 m (141 ft 8 in)|
|Width||3.54 m (11 ft 7 in)|
|Cargo Volume||226.5 m³ (7998.77 ft³)|
|Maximum Ramp Weight (Engine Option 1)||100,240 kg (221,000 lb)||124,050 kg|
|Maximum Ramp Weight (Engine Option 2)||116,120 kg (256,000 lb)
|Maximum Take-Off Weight (Engine Option 1)||99,790 kg (220,000 lb)||123,603 kg (272,500 lb)|
|Maximum Take-Off Weight (Engine Option 2)||115,666 kg (255,000 lb)||N/A|
|Maximum Landing Weight (Engine Option 1)||89,810 kg (198,000 lb)||101,600 kg (223,990 lbs)|
|Maximum Landing Weight(Engine Option 2)||95,250 kg (210,000 lb)||N/A|
|Operating Weight Empty (Engine Option 1)||58,440 – 58,570 kg
(128,840 – 129,130 lbs)
|64,470 kg (142,140 lb)|
|Operating Weight Empty (Engine Option 2)||59,160 – 59,300 kg
(130,440 – 130,730 lbs)
|64,560 kg (142,340 lbs)|
|Range (with Max Passengers)||7,222 km (3,900 NM)||6,421 km (3,467 NM)|
|Max Operating Speed||0.86 Mach (659 mph, 573 knots, 1,061 km/h)|
|Long Range Cruise (@ 35,000 ft)||0.80 Mach (530 mph, 458 knots, 980 km/h)|
|Fuel Capacity||43,490 L (11,489 US gal)||43,400 L (11,466 US gal)|
|Fuel Burn (Average @ 0.78 Mach)||2630 kg (5800 lbs)|
|Takeoff Distance (SL, ISA, MTOW)||2,911 m (9,550 ft)||2,926 m (9,600 ft)|
|Service Ceiling||12,800 m (42,000 ft)|
|Rated Thrust (RB-211)||37,000 – 40,100 lbf ( 164.58 – 178.37 kN)|
|Rated Thrust (PW2000)||37,000 – 40,100 lbf ( 164.58 – 178.37 kN)|
|Wake Turbulence Category||M|
|Approach Speed Category||C|
|Cabin Attendants||5 – 7|
|Flight Deck||Proprietary Boeing Glass Avionics Flight Deck|
|Engine(s)||Rolls Royce RB211-535E4||Pratt & Whitney PW2043|
|Rolls Royce RB211-535E4B|
|Pratt & Whitney PW2040|
|Pratt & Whitney PW2037|
|Auxiliary Power Unit||Honeywell GTCP331-200|
Boeing 757 Performance and Flight Characteristics
There’s a saying in aviation, “if it looks right, it flies right”. The Boeing 757 embodied this quote. Pilots who fly the airplane have nothing but good things to say about the 757’s performance and handling characteristics.
On takeoff is where the performance of the aircraft shined. The high power-to-weight ratio of the 757 means that during takeoff there are virtually no limiting factors, which made it a “go anywhere” aircraft.
Short runways with a full load were a cinch. The flip side of having so much thrust at your fingertips is that it takes some finesse to fly it at lighter loads.
The traditional yoke controls of Boeing aircraft make the pilots feel more connected to the aircraft. The 757 doesn’t feel like it’s a fly-by-wire aircraft, the feedback is dialed in just right. It does what you want when you want it to. Pitch control is more sensitive, but it’s nothing that can’t be reigned in.
The culmination of high performance and delightful controls shine on approaches and landings. The 757’s aerodynamics means it’s inherently stable, preventing it from being thrown around, even in strong winds at low speeds.
The responsive controls allow pilots to correct for turbulence well. If things go sideways and a quick go-around is necessary, hit the TOGA switch and forget your worries, the engines will do the rest.
Boeing 757 Modifications and Options
The 757 is a popular business jet. The most famous example, Donald Trump’s 757, is a brilliant example of the aircraft’s versatility. Changes include a revamped glass cockpit, master bedroom, shower, dining room, and luxury seating for 43. The level of customization is only limited by the budget.
Boeing offered the standard 757-200 in a single-class configuration, while the 757-300 was available in both single and dual-class configurations. Many airlines outfitted the 757 with first-class cabins as well, but they remain a rarity.
Boeing 757 Price
The price of a used Boeing 757-200 varies depending on its year of manufacture and its usage. The going prices for these aircraft can range between $11.5 on the high-end and $3.8 million on the low-end. Quite the departure from the introductory price of $65 million Boeing asked for a brand-new 757-200 in 2004.
The value of the freighter models of the 757 has fared better thanks to the conversions and the ability of these aircraft to handle heavy loads with little modification. However, selling these aircraft after heavy use is still difficult.
Nepal Airlines were the sole buyer of the 757-200M and retired the aircraft in 2018. It attempted to sell the aircraft for $7 million which proved difficult. An attempt to sell the aircraft at $4.2 million was also unsuccessful. The airline then opted to keep the aircraft in service.
Boeing 757 Operation Costs
The operation of an aircraft incurs a variety of costs. We can separate them into two categories: fixed and variable.
Over the course of a year, some costs have to be paid, regardless if an aircraft is grounded or if it flies every day. These are fixed costs and do not change based on usage.
Very few jetliners are purchased in full from the get-go. The usual procedure is to obtain a lease which is then paid over an agreed period. In 2002, a Boeing 757-300 sold at $80 million, however, airlines make bulk purchases and often receive a hefty discount on the sticker price.
The purchase price of the 757 fluctuated from airline to airline, making it difficult to find an accurate average yearly lease cost.
According to Delta Air Lines, a veteran captain of a 757 is paid between $120,000 to $173,000 per year. A first officer flying a 757 for the same airline earns between $55,000 and $120,000 per year based on the level of experience. Flight crew salary amounts to a total of $234,000 per annum.
The median salary for a cabin crew member is $49,407, and a passenger version of the 757 requires a minimum of 4 to function, which means annually the salary for a cabin crew on a 757 is $197,630. This means the total annual cost to fly a passenger 757 is $431,000.
Most maintenance costs are dependent on the usage of the aircraft. However, there are yearly maintenance costs that occur. One of the main costs is an annual inspection.
The FAA requires an annual inspection to be carried out every 12 calendar months, regardless of the aircraft’s usage. This in-depth inspection of virtually every part of the aircraft requires many person-hours.
All operators of aircraft opt for insurance to protect not only the aircraft and its crew from accidents and liability but also its passengers and their cargo.
However, the cost of insurance for a single 757 is unavailable because airlines pay insurance based on factors such as the size of the fleet, number of passengers flown, and destinations they operate at.
There are several variable costs, here is the breakdown.
Fuel is by far the largest cost an airline incurs. The 757 consumes an average of 2630 kg (5800 lbs) per hour. This figure is an average, based on flight at 0.78 Mach at 35,000 ft. However, the true fuel consumption is dependent on thrust levels, temperature, pressure, and altitude.
Fuel prices have increased in recent times, especially due to the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia. The price of a gallon of Jet-A1 in November of 2021 was $2.19. Just six months later the price was at $3.91, a 78% increase.
Airlines use a phase inspection system for time-based inspections to reduce downtime. For example: according to Part 91 rules the FAA requires aircraft to be inspected every 100 hours.
But phase inspections (which require FAA approval) are conducted by inspecting different components at different times. So the sum of it all will be the equivalent of a 100-hour inspection.
Phase inspections are customized and are done on a case-by-case basis. Therefore it is unclear how much an airline spends on maintaining a single 757. Especially since parts are bought in bulk and engineers are on an annual payroll and work on the entire fleet.
An aircraft incurs additional costs during a flight. These come in the form of docking and handling fees, and landing and navigation fees. Furthermore, refreshments
Boeing 757 Variants
The 757-200M or 757 Combi is one of the more unique models Boeing has produced. The aircraft is a convertible version of the aircraft capable of carrying both passengers and cargo.
Boeing only produced a single model, however, three more models exist due to conversions undertaken by Precision Aircraft Solutions, Pemco World, and Vision Technologies. These aircraft can accommodate up to 58 passengers and 10 LD3 cargo pallets.
The 757-200PCF is an aftermarket conversion carried out by various licensed outfits. These aircraft are now in popular demand due to a combination of a low purchase price of the aircraft and high load carrying capabilities, up to 38,100 kg (84,000 lbs).
Upgrades include a hydraulically actuated cargo door, and a seven-track ANCRA cargo handling system. Winglets are also available as an optional upgrade to improve fuel efficiency and range.
The 757 was in service for 13 years without a stretched variant. But in September of 1996, Boeing announced the 757-300 which was 23.4 ft (7.13m) longer than the 757-200, increased the maximum number of passengers from 231 to 289, and cargo capacity by almost 50%.
Demand for a stretched variant was growing because airlines wanted to utilize the range and low operating costs of the 757 to ferry more passengers. In addition, the A321 was poised to steal away market share in the sector had Boeing done nothing.
The first 757-300 rolled off the production line a mere 21 months after it had been announced. Changes came in the form of upgraded engines, a new avionics suite, a new interior, and brand-new vacuum lavatories.
Other changes were limited to structural strengthening, new tires, and brakes to handle the higher loads.
Boeing 757 Competitors
The A321XLR is purpose-built to put the 757 and sadly, it succeeded. It was built using the same design philosophy as the 757, with high-power, low-weight, and smart aerodynamics.
The A321XLR dethroned the 757 by being more advanced which shouldn’t come as a surprise as it is much newer than the 757. It boasts a higher range than the 757 and is astronomically more fuel-efficient, thanks to its modern engines.
See also: Airbus vs Boeing Fleet Comparison
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Question: What is TOGA?
Answer: Takeoff and Go-around is a feature in jet-engine aircraft to advance the thrust levers to full-throttle and operates in two distinct modes: takeoff mode and go-around mode.
In Airbus aircraft, it is activated by moving the thrust levers to the TO/FA detent. In Boeing aircraft, there are two switches on the throttle quadrant, one for each pilot.
In Boeings, pressing the button once will move the thrust levels automatically to a predetermined takeoff or go-around power setting (depending on if the aircraft is in takeoff mode or approach mode).
Pressing the button twice will move the levers to full power. During approaches, the autopilot will be disengaged and the aircraft will cease to follow the glideslope.
In Airbus’, moving the levers to the TOGA detent will provide the required power setting calculated by the FMS. Unlike in Boeings, autopilot isn’t disengaged in Airbus’ but the end result is the same. If programmed into the autopilot any aircraft will fly the missed approach pattern after the TOGA switch is hit.
Question: What is Density Altitude?
Answer: Density altitude is pressure altitude corrected for non-standard temperature. It is what the aircraft “feels” it’s flying at and has an enormous effect on performance. Higher than usual temperatures increase density altitude while colder temperatures reduce density altitude.
Question: How Does Density Altitude Affect Performance?
Answer: The air is thinner at higher altitudes. The lower the density of the air, the less lift is produced. Lower lift production means longer takeoff runs, higher rotation speeds, and more thrust is required.
On a standard day, at MSL the aircraft will perform normally. However, if the temperature was higher, the aircraft will behave as if it’s at a higher altitude, and vice versa for colder temperatures.
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