Honeywell announced on Monday that its Boeing 757 test-bed aircraft is turning 40 years old. The company acquired the 757, which rolled off of the production line in June 1982 and entered service with Eastern Airlines the following year, in 2005 for use in research and development. It has been used to test technologies including Honeywell’s next-generation flight management systems (NGFMS), IntuVue RDR-4000 and RDR-7000 weather radars, the HTF7000 engine series, JetWave and JetWave MCX in-flight Wi-Fi systems and Aspire 350 and 400 satellite communication suites.
“For the past 17 years, we have made so many technological modifications to our beloved 757 test aircraft that the only thing turning 40 years old is likely the fuselage itself,” said Joe Duval, Honeywell Aerospace director of flight test operations. “We’re among a select few pilots in the industry who have the responsibility to push an aircraft close to its limits. We’ve intentionally flown into nasty storms to test our radars, and we’ve flown toward more mountains than I can count to test our ground proximity warning systems. Our 757 has been the dependable workhorse that allows us to test a whole slew of technologies, including the engines we produce for business jets and smaller aircraft.”
Honeywell’s 757 is outfitted with 25 seats and “a wide variety of flight test engineering stations.” The company reports that its 757 has conducted more than 800 flight tests and logged over 3,000 flight test hours during its service as a test bed. According to Honeywell, the aircraft has traveled to more than 30 countries across five continents.
How long will it continue to serve and what plans for a replacement airplane are in place?
Wow! Forty years for the 757. Hard to believe. Seems so recent that I was ORD ATC and working the day the first one flown by an airline, can’t remember which, made its first revenue flight off ORD. There were Boeing and the airline representatives in the tower and Tracon to watch its departure. About 20 miles out it had to shut down an engine and return. Darn. But….it went on to have many happy years of success.
Boeing tried to turn the 737 into a 757 with the Max. Boeing should put it back into production with the 787 wing technology and the new efficient engines. It would be a winner.
Not really – just modified the 737 a long way.
Southwest Airlines made a strategic error a while back – wanted commonality with existing fleet instead of looking to the future.
I think SWA would have done better with the 757-100 design. (Launch customers for 757 wanted more capacity so the -200 was produced.)
I’ve thought the same thing, John. New avionics, too. Boeing would be so far ahead of where they are now, given the MAX debacle.
That makes sense to me, but there might be a reason why Boeing isn’t doing it. What they are calling the New Midsize Aircraft is most probably going to be a clean-sheet design. Just this month Boeing said it wouldn’t pursue the NMA until newer technology engines were available.
I’ve got about 5000hrs in those beauties and a finer airplane has yet to be made. The technology interface requires the pilot to be “in the loop”, no set it, forget it and not be actively participating in the flight! Also at the time (2000+=), it was the only airline airplane that could handle Eagle Vail, CO
I made a video of it at Oshkosh 2018:
The sports car of the airliners. Also flew them into and out of Eagle Vail, Co.
I have thousands of hours in this marvelous jet. Boeing might not be in such a funk if they would have continued to build it.
The Atari Ferrari.
Flew my first of many hours on the B757-236 from Boeing Field, 3Feb1983 Boeing Instructor pilot Capt Doc Dockins. After years on the B737-236 this was a magnificent advance in performance, a true GP airplane. Remember taking a CAA air controller for an experience flight when he remarked we had more computer capacity than his control tower. The 757 was surpassed in my experience only by the splendid B747-400, both now flown into history, recorded in the fading log books of elderly airline pilots..