Boeing Airliner Spotting Guide


Where it all started ... The Boeing Airplane Company, Seattle, Washington
Where it all started ... The Boeing Airplane Company, Seattle, Washington (Staff Photo)

The Boeing 367-80, the "Dash 80", was the prototype aircraft for the Boeing 707 jet airliner, the Air Force C-135 Stratolifter, and KC-135 Stratotanker. It was rolled out of the assembly line in May of 1954 from Boeing's Renton, Washington plant.

The success of the 707 made Boeing the leader in commercial airliners, and led to a popular 7x7 family of jetliners introduced over the years: the 717, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777, and the 787 Dreamliner.

One can spot a Boeing jet airliner in nearly any airport in the world. They share similar external characteristics, but identifying one from another can be difficult.

Included on this page is a quick and easy guide to spotting the Boeing jetliners in use today.

Let's get started ...

A Few Notable Boeing and Airbus Differences

The classic Boeing airliner "pointed nose" with V-shaped windows in the windshield
Boeing 737 showing the classic Boeing airliner "pointed nose"

The typical Airbus airliner  with its "rounded nose" design
The "rounded nose" found on many Airbus airliners

Comparison of typical Boeing wide-body tail structure (top) compared with a typical Airbus structure which has more of a straight alignment across the bottom of the tail
Comparison of typical Boeing wide-body tail structure (top) compared with a typical Airbus structure which has more of a straight alignment across the bottom of the tail

 

Boeing 707

The 4-engine Pan American Boeing 707
See more Boeing 707 photographs and spotting tips
Pan American Boeing 707


Boeing 717

Air Tran Boeing 717-2BD with its twin-engines mounted on the aft of the fuselage
See more Boeing 717 photographs and spotting tips


Boeing 727

The 727 is powered by three Pratt & Whitney JT8D engines below the T-tail, one on each side of the rear fuselage with a center engine that connects through an S-duct to an inlet at the base of the fin.

The front of the fuselage features the classic "Boeing pointed nose" and V-shaped windshields on each side of the cockpit.

These features can be seen in the Boeing 727-200 of Delta Air Lines shown below.
See more Boeing 727 photographs and spotting tips

The 727 is powered by three Pratt & Whitney JT8D engines below the T-tail, one on each side of the rear fuselage with a center engine that connects through an S-duct to an inlet at the base of the fin.


Boeing 737

Boeing 737 has two engines, a main landing gear consisting of two sets of two wheels, and a triangular section at the front of the tail. The nose is "pointed". Originally nicknamed the "Baby Boeing", it has grown over the decades in size and remains a popular airliner worldwide.
See more Boeing 737 photographs and spotting tips
Boeing 737 spotting tips: Boeing 737 has two engines, a main landing gear consisting of two sets of two wheels, and a triangular section at the front of the tail. The nose is "pointed"



Boeing 747: The Original Jumbo Jet

The Boeing 747 with its four engines, one full passenger deck the length of the fuselage, and bulbous front fuselage is an easy spot. Shown below is a Boeing 747-400 of British Airways.
See more Boeing 747 photographs and spotting tips
The Boeing 747 with its four engines, one full passenger deck the length of the fuselage, and bulbous front fuselage is an easy spot. Shown below is a Boeing 747-400 of British Airways.


Boeing 757

In this photograph, the dominant dolphin-shaped nose of the narrow-body, single-aisle Boeing 757 can be seen on this American Airlines airliner. Note also the classic Boeing "V-shaped" windshield windows.
the dominant dolphin-shaped nose of the 757 can be seen on this American Airlines airliner. Note also the classic Boeing "V-shaped" windshield windows.

Chart showing spotting tips between the 757-200 and 757-300 models. The –200 has 3 cabin doors on each side of the fuselage along with emergency exit doors either aft of the wing or over the wing. The -300 has 4 cabins doors.
See more Boeing 757 photographs and spotting tips
Chart showing spotting tips between the 757-200 and 757-300 models. The –200 has 3 cabin doors on each side of the fuselage along with emergency exit doors either aft of the wing or over the wing. The -300 has 4 cabins doors.

Side-by-side comparison of the
Boeing 757 (bottom) and Airbus A321 (top)
Side-by-side comparison of the Airbus A321 and the Boeing 757



Boeing 767

Boeing 767-200 (top) and 767-300 (bottom) wide-body, twin-jet.
See more Boeing 767 photographs and spotting tips
Spotting tips for the Boeing 767-200 (top) and 767-300 (bottom)

Boeing's twin-engine, wide-bodied 767 (top) compared to the Airbus A330 (bottom) showing their 8-wheel main landing gear differences. The gear fall to the front on the Boeing 767, while the landing gear fall to the rear on the Airbus A330.
Boeing 767 and Airbus A330 spotting guide


Boeing 777

The twin-engine, wide-body Boeing 777-200 (top) and Boeing 777-300 (below). Note that the 777-200 has four cabin doors while the 777-300 has five cabin doors.

Also, the 777 is the only airliner currently in operation that has two, 6-wheel main landing gear configurations. It also features a flat APU exhaust at the rear of the fuselage.

See more Boeing 777 photographs and spotting tips

Spotting tips for the Boeing 777-200 (top) and Boeing 777-300 (below)


Boeing 787

The twin-engine, wide-body Boeing 787-8 (top) and Boeing 787-9 (below) with its distinctive nose design, "sawtooth" engine housing, and no winglets.
See more Boeing 787 photographs and spotting tips
Spotting tips for the Boeing 787-8 (top) and Boeing 787-9 (below)