Boeing 757, launched in 1983, is the largest narrow-body aircraft from the manufacturer. In this article, we would discuss some of the defining features of the aircraft and its variants that will help you identify the same in less than 5 seconds.

Note: If you wish to build strong foundations in planespotting, it is advisable to start with this article.

Jumping straight in, here are some of the features that would help you in identifying the Boeing 757 and its variants:

Long and Narrow Fuselage

The 757, as described earlier, is the largest narrow-body aircraft in Boeing’s catalogue. Therefore, the plane can be distinguished by the same – length and narrowness.

High ground clearance

The 757 has long landing gears. This gives it a ‘tall’ stature.

Combining points 1 and 2, the 757 appears as a ‘tall and lean’ aircraft.

The ‘Tall and Lean’ 757. Notice how long the landing gears are.
Credits: Arpingstone

Note: The 757 is most easily confused with the 767. Check out our guide to spot a 777 in the button below:

The front landing gear

The nose landing gear of the 757 is located a little backwards as compared to other Boeing planes. You will notice that the gear is almost behind the front exit door. This is an important feature that will help you identify the 757 almost instantaneously.

Notice how further back the front landing gear is. Compare with other Boeing aircraft here.
Credits: Arcturus

The nose shape

757’s nose is almost flat at the bottom as compared to the more curved and bulbous ones in other Boeing planes. The 757’s nose shape is sometimes referred to as the ‘Dolphin’ nose.

The Dolphin nose. Notice how flat the nose is at the bottom. Compare with other Boeing aircraft here.
Credits: Juergen Lehle

Identifying the Variants

Once you have identified the aircraft in front of you as a 757, it is time identify the variant. The two major variants of the 757 are -200 and -300.

Defining features of 757-200:

The 757-200 has 3 main fuselage doors with 

  1. one emergency exit just behind the wings; or
  2. two over-wing exits
757-200 with 4 doors – 3 main fuselage doors + 1 non-overwing emergency exit
Credits: Arpingstone
757-200 with 5 doors – 3 main fuselage doors + 2 overwing emergency exits
Credits: Christopher T Cooper

Defining features of 757-300:

The 757-300 has 4 main fuselage doors with 2 over-wing exits.

757-300 – 4 main fuselage doors + 2 overwing emergency exits
Credits: MilborneOne

Thus if you look at a 757 and it has 4 or 5 doors, it is a 757-200 and if it has 6 doors, it is a 757-300.


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Cover image credits: Adrian Pingstone

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