Boeing Airliner Spotting Guide
How to Tell Boeing Jetliners Apart
|Boeing Commercial Aircraft|
|Boeing 747||Boeing 707|
|Boeing 767||Boeing 717|
|Boeing 777||Boeing 727|
|Boeing 787||Boeing 737|
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 by looking at details such as engine placement, tail design and landing gear configuration.
The success of the 707 in the 1960s made Boeing the early 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.
And the tradition continues ... in June of 2017 Boeing announced at the Paris Air Show its newest airliner, the NMA, probably to be called the 797.
Let's get started ...
The 4-engine Boeing 707
Boeing 717 with its twin-engines mounted on the aft of the fuselage
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
Boeing 767-200, 767-300, and 767-400 wide-body, twin-jet.
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.
Shown below is a side-by-side comparison of the Boeing 787-8 (top), 787-9 (middle) and Boeing 787-10 (below)
The Dreamliner's distinguishing features include one engine under each wing, swept wings with no winglets, two 4-wheel main landing gear, a sleek pointed nose, and noise-reducing chevrons on its engine nacelles.
Also, the 787 does not have winglets or sharklets, which are used on the similar shaped Airbus A350.
| American Airlines Boeing airliners awaiting takeoff at the DFW International Airport
(L to R) Boeing 777, Boeing 787 and Boeing 737 (June, 2019)
The Boeing 797 / NMA Announced at 2017 Paris Air Show
At the Paris Air Show in June of 2017, Boeing officials offered preliminary plans for the development of a totally new "Middle of the Market" or "MOM" airliner, tentatively scheduled for availability in 2025.
Media outlets are already calling this narrow body, dual-aisle airliner the Boeing 797, which would feature a composite fuselage and wings.
Boeing's current official name for the project is New Midsize Aircraft (NMA). The NMA would have a capacity for 220 to 270 passengers and a range of 5,200 nautical miles, filling the gap between the 737 MAX and the 787 Dreamliner.
Boeing Airline Customer Codes
The Boeing Company uses a series of 2-character Airline Customer Codes to identify the original-build customer for all Boeing 7x7 aircraft, up to and including the Boeing 777. The code system is not used on the 787 and the 737Max.
One example would be Emirates Boeing 777-31H. This is a 777-300 series aircraft originally built for Emirates, Boeing Airline Customer Code 1H.
Included below is a table of the Boeing customer codes used for some larger and popular world airlines.
|Boeing Customer Code||Airline||Boeing Customer Code||Airline|
|24||Continental Airlines||1B||China Southern|
|30||Lufthansa and Condor||1R||Virgin Atlantic|
|31||Trans World Airlines||2A||Hawaiian Airlines|
|32||Delta Airlines||2W||TAM /LATAM|
|36||British Airways||4A||United Parcel Service (UPS)|
|46||Japan Air Lines||9L||Air China|
|47||Western Airlines||AS||Ryan Air|
|57||Swiss Air||DZ||Qatar Airways|
|69||Kuwait Airways||J6||Air China|
|81||All Nippon Airways||S2||FedEx|
Boeing 727 at the Museum of Flight
Shown to the right is Boeing 727-223, N874AA in American Airlines livery, on display at the Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington.
This airliner was delivered to American Airlines (Boeing Customer Code 23) in April of 1978. (Staff Photo)
Boeing Airliner Operations at Night
While spotting airliners during the day can sometimes be difficult, nighttime air operations make the process even harder.
One way to identify Boeing airliners at night is by examining the pattern of the white light at the tip of the wing, known as the strobe.
Boeing wing strobe lights flash only once, while Airbus airliners flash twice in rapid succession.