Spotting 3-Engine Jet Airliners


Does It Have Three Engines?

If the airliner has three engines, one in the tail and one each under each wing or one on either side of the rear fuselage, it is an older aircraft, probably a Boeing 727, Douglas DC-10, McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 or Lockheed L-1011. It could also be a Russian-built Tupolev TU-154.

Few of these tri-jets are in service today, and many of those are cargo jets.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 727-200, one engine in the tail, two engines on either side of the rear fuselage
See more Boeing 727 photographs and spotting tips
Boeing 727 in Delta Air Lines livery


Tri-Jet DC-10 of Northwest Airbus, one engine in the tail, one engine under each wing
Douglas DC-10 of Western Air Lines

Northwest Air Lines Douglas DC-10
Northwest Air Lines Douglas DC-10

Delta Air Lines McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 wide-body tri-jet
Delta Air Lines McDonnell-Douglas MD-11

The wide-body, tri-jet Lockheed L-1011 Tristar
Lockheed L-1011 Tristar