How is a Boeing 757 assembled

30 years ago today: Boeing 757 maiden flight

The Boeing 757 was developed jointly with the Boeing 767 in the late 1970s to round off Boeing's offerings on the medium and long-haul aircraft market. At the beginning, the Boeing 757 was intended as a replacement for the already aging Boeing 727, but eventually the idea of ​​an extended Boeing 727 was dropped in favor of a completely new development. The Boeing 757-200, with a maximum seating capacity of 234 passengers, became the basic variant.

The program was officially launched in 1979 after British Airways and Eastern Airlines ordered a total of 40 aircraft. The aim of Boeing was to make the commonality between the Boeing 757 and the Boeing 767, which is already well advanced in development, as large as possible in order to save maintenance and training costs for the airlines. The cockpit of the two types is therefore almost identical, so that pilots with the Boeing 767 or Boeing 757 type rating can fly both types after a short conversion course.

After an adaptation of the plant, the Boeing 757 was built in Renton, Washington - where the Boeing 727 was also produced and the Boeing 737 is still manufactured today. The assembly of the first machine (Reg .: N757A) started in January 1981. The official rollout took place on January 13, 1982.

The first flight was carried out on February 19, 1982. This did not go completely smoothly, during the flight there was an engine stall in the right of the two Rolls-Royce RB211-535C engines, followed by a "low oil pressure" warning. After working through the relevant checklists, restarting the engine and speaking to the Boeing engineers via radio, the test pilots John Armstrong and Lew Wallick decided to continue the flight as planned.

When the flight test began, a total of 136 orders had already been placed from Air Florida, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Eastern Air Lines, Monarch Airlines and Transbrasil.

The version equipped with Rolls-Royce engines was approved by the FAA on December 21, 1982, followed by CAA approval on January 14, 1983. The first aircraft was handed over to the first customer Eastern Air Lines on December 22, 1982, for example four months after the first Boeing 767 was delivered.

With Eastern Air Lines the 757 was used for the first time on January 1, 1983 on the Altanta-Tampa route, British Airways carried out the first commercial flight with the Boeing 757 on February 9, 1983 on the London-Belfast route. Compared to the Boeing 707 and Boeing 727, it turned out that the Boeing 757 uses 42 and 40 percent less fuel per seat on typical medium-haul flights, respectively.

In 1990 the Boeing 757 with the Rolls-Royce RB211-535E4 engines received ETOPS approval, which made it possible for airlines to use the machine on routes from North America to Europe across the Atlantic. ETOPS approval for the Pratt and Whitney powered variant followed in 1992.

In September 1996, after an order for 12 aircraft from the German airline Condor, Boeing announced the more than 7 meters longer Boeing 757-300 at the Farnborough Airshow. The rollout of the first machine took place on May 31, 1998, the first flight was completed on August 2, 1998. On March 9, 1999, Condor carried out the first scheduled flight with the Boeing 757-300.

Due to the crisis in the aviation industry after September 11, 2001 and the lack of demand for aircraft the size of the Boeing 757, Continental Airlines converted part of their Boeing 757-300 order into Boeing 737-800, Boeing explained in October 2003 that Boeing 757 production will be discontinued.

The last and 1050th Boeing 757 to be built, a 757-200, rolled out of the factory in Renton on October 28, 2003 and was delivered to Shanghai Airlines on April 28, 2005 after having been out of service for several months.

Despite the cessation of production, Boeing and Aviation Partners worked on a winglet retrofit kit for the Boeing 757, which received FAA approval in May 2005. The winglets result in fuel savings of around 5% per machine.

The Boeing 757 is currently being increasingly displaced by the Boeing 737-900ER and Airbus A321, but the range of these two types is in part insufficient to serve North Atlantic routes where the use of larger equipment - such as the Airbus A330 or Boeing 767 - is not possible would be profitable. Because of the lack of alternatives, some American airlines will probably continue to use this pattern for a longer period of time.

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Text: CvD