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Why the Boeing 757 Cannot be Replaced by the 737 MAX

An airline pilot reveals why a plane Boeing discarded 12 years ago is the one they desperately need. ( More...

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jaymeinen 7
Continental began using the 757 on North Atlantic routes about the same time Boeing shut down production. If Boeing would've waited, they would've sold a lot more 757s.
8c8g8r8 1
wait for what? 0 passenger orders after 9/11, and 4 years of staving off the vultures.
ADXbear 6
Beating a dead horse here... everyone in aviation agrees with this pilot, Boeing really messed up here, but those fixtures are long gone, time to rethink a clean sheet aircraft that will accommodate upgrades as time passes.. the 73 is a great plan, but its reached s potential... We will miss the corvette of the skies when they send the last one to the desert.. the best of all airlines.. within her category..
David Barnes 4
This myth surrounding the fixtures/tooling has been one floating around for years. Yes, the tooling may have been scrapped, but the drawings for all that tooling still exists. If it were wanted or needed, it could easily be resurrected to build the next airplane.

Far more important than the physical tools is the intellectual property used in their design.

All that said, yes, the 757 in it's current state is not a design that could be sold today. It's not as efficient as newer planes. It's wing is big and heavy for the MTOW. The 737 can be pushed to meet several of the performance criteria of the 757 (seating capacity, range, etc).

But, and as the article noted, the performance of a 757 in a fully loaded configuration from high and/or hot airports is virtually unmatched. There's a reason, for example, that Delta flies the 757 on ATL-SNA routes, and not the similarly sized 737-900s. The short (5700 ft) runway, noise abatement procedures, and the amount of fuel necessary for 1900 miles of flying make it a nonstarter for the 737 (which, for comparison, regularly flies ATL-LAX).
James Simms 0
Delta uses a 757-200 for use in/out of TCL w/a 6500' runway for University of Alabama football charters. Plans are afoot to lengthen the runway to 8000'-8500'. There's a lot of automotive industry in the area & currently 727's & MD-83's are used for material transport to TCL & to BWG for the Corvette plant. Delta flew an Airbus 321 over the campus area prior to this past Saturday's game & I suspect that's what will be used once the Delta 757's are retired.
n9341c 3
Airline pilots are all brilliant and should be listened to no matter what.
dee9bee 1
Smartly played!
Mike Mundy 3
Icelandair got it right then!
Yep, they were on the ball and snapped up those off leasers before anyone else knew they were going to be available.
jetserf 2
"Furthermore, the 757 can comfortably climb straight to its cruising altitude. On the other hand, the 737 requires a step climb procedure that calls for the plane to climb to a certain altitude and burn off some fuel to lighten the load before continuing on to a higher altitude." I flew the 737 for 7 years and just transitioned to the 757/767 6 months ago. The 757 sometimes requires a step climb depending on the planned cruising altitude. It almost never has the ability to climb to the max cruising altitude of FL410.

The space on the flight deck is a welcome change for me. The 737NGs flight deck feels like it was still designed for regional flying. It's extremely uncomfortable. You can stand comfortably (I'm 6'2") on a 757.

The avionics are a step back though, as the author stated. I felt like I was flying a 737-500 again :). 757-200s do fly beautifully though. 757-300s not so much, in my opinion. I do hope that the MAX9/10 don't interfere or delay the speculated design period for the 757 replacement.
JD345 2
This is just kind of a reminder that the airline industry is probably the most volatile major industry in the world. The astronomical overhead and potential for liability along with the high degree of reliance on external variables (oil prices, terrorism scares, arbitrary government regulations, etc.) make it very difficult to make good long-term decisions. If the galley on an oil tanker runs out of frozen hash browns, somewhere in the world five airlines go bankrupt a week later.

Around the time the 757 got canceled I don't think anyone really foresaw the potential it had for the long oddball routes that it serves now. In a sense I think the 788 is the spiritual successor because of some of the long oddball routes of its own that it opened up.
8c8g8r8 2
i mentioned it elsewhere, but its hard for me to bemoan boeing leadership for terminating a product line that netted 0 passenger orders and 7 total orders in 4 years after 9/11.

perhaps the root cause was sub-optimal deployment of the 757 or operators deferring on new aircraft orders for too long, but its hard for me to jump on the "boeing was stupid" bandwagon.
James Hanley 2
Very interesting article. The 757 is one of my favorite planes of all time. I will be sad to see it go.
Ron Beraha 2
It looks like Business Insider has done it again. The article "Why the Boeing 757 Cannot be Replaced by the 737 MAX" is placed here entirely to fish foe new members from these pages.
Dave Nosek 2
Yep except there excuse with me was I am using an ad blocker. Certainly not helping to gather any business from me.
Jesse Carroll 3
OOP'S, forgot about topic, I love the 757 and it's performance. If It's good enough for TRUMP ONE, then it's good enough for me!
I wish you would stop posting news items that require a subscription to view. Like this one.
Or telling us to turn off our ad blocker. I understand the revenue part but please understand the malware implanted inside a lot of those 'innocent' little ads.
Ian Deans 2
Interesting that this article doesn't mention the A321 which is the closest match to the 757, and is selling like crazy.
Alan Dahl 1
I wonder whether it would be cost-effective for Boeing to reengineer used 757s in a way similar to the way Douglas transformed the super-60s in the 1970s into the super-70s? This added a couple of decades of usefulness to an airplane that appeared to have reached the end of it’s life. With the long and thin routes that 757s are used on I wonder how many cycles the average one has flown? Perhaps they are young enough to consider a re-engine and cockpit and perhaps wing upgrades?
Dubslow 1
I've been saying for years that a NSA would have been far better for Boeing, because it could be engineered up into a 757/MotM replacement... the 737 just doesn't have that growth room.

(Start with a clean sheet around 737-8 size, ditch the -7 size entirely, have an upgraded/stretched clean sheet in the 737-9 market, like the 787-9, and then you could either do a 787-10 style dumb stretch or possibly engineer a second "smarter" stretch like Airbus is considering with the potential A350 double stretch. Either would reach 757/MotM capacity, though only the second option would really have the right range.)
dee9bee 1
Chances are that no one will ever see this post, but I'd love to see a re-engined 757 with 787 avionics and perhaps some aerodynamic changes. It could certainly fill a niche and compete with A/B. The 757 was my favorite aircraft and it can do almost everything. I felt that the 757 handled better than the 767, well balanced, where I found the 767 a bit 'twitchy'. No, I didn't try to fly the '75 across the Atlantic in winter nor had the opportunity to do a takeoff at LaPaz, Bolivia, but I could take it from DFW to either Alaska or Peru and a full power takeoff from St Thomas with the immediate right turn made my day.
Paul Smith 1
I'm still upset that the got rid of th 40 and 80A.
TWA55 1
That little A310 developed not so may years ago has now grown into a giant that Boeing can no longer ignore. And in this business, playing catch up is not where you want to be.
LGM118 1
I've always been on the fence about whether it was a "mistake" for Boeing to shut down 757 production. We often look back at the situation with our modern lenses, but let's step back and look at things from an early 2000's perspective. Here's where the 757 stood in 2002:

- The 757 doesn't sell in the same volume as the 737 or 767, not even close. New orders are barely coming in amidst the post-9/11 airline slump, and there don't seem to be any new markets where the 757 could grow into.
- We're developing a 767 replacement with a shortened model that will offer comparable seating to the 757-300 with much better range and better economics.
- The 737-900 is still new, but airlines seem to be gravitating towards it as a 757 replacement, albeit with shorter range, and it does seem to compete well against the A321 in a way the 757 hasn't. Range doesn't seem to be a problem, as both the A321 and 737-900 trade range for seats. Clearly, the transatlantic market will remain the domain of widebodies., as it has historically.
- Airlines are trying to cut down on excess capacity by using more flexible, interchangeable fleets where supply can be up- or down-gauged as demand warrants. This requires a relatively homogenous fleet where not only planes but crews can be swapped around. The 757 requires its own crews and can't be part of that system, so demand will likely remain limited.

Thus, Boeing made the (at the time) fairly straightforward decision to shut down the 757 program. Let's look at the factors as to why the 757 still sees heavy use, particularly among US airlines:

-Thin transatlantic routes. Continental and American did operate a handful of transatlantic 757 routes in the early 2000's, but the 757 didn't have the range to operate them well. It wasn't until the late 2000's and the fuel price surges in 2007-9 that airlines began adding winglets and other fuel-saving features to their 757 fleets. In addition, industry consolidation freed up landing slots at key airports in the northeast US to enable thinner northern European routes.
-The existence of the 737-900 and A321 is what enabled 757's to get freed up for the transatlantic market, but it also cut into the domestic market where the 757 had been thriving before that. United basically uses 757's for their p.s. runs and thin transatlantic routes from EWR. American uses their 757's for thin transatlantic routes and some hub-hub routes. Delta is the lone airline still using 757's extensively in the domestic US market, and not coincidentally is only now starting to bring in 737-900's and A321's.

Hindsight being 20/20, yes, it would have probably been great for Boeing to keep the 757 line going, but given the information they had at the time, it was an entirely understandable decision. Boeing correctly predicted that the domestic US and European markets would come to be dominated by the 737 and A320 series, but failed to predict the emergence of the 757 transatlantic market.
8c8g8r8 1
it can't be understated that after 9/11, there was not a single order for a passenger-configured 757, and only 7 orders total. what business wouldn't terminate that line?
LGM118 1
Sort of cut myself off at the end of my *coughs* treatise *coughs*, but I did want to mention that some of the other valuable characteristics of the 757 (bigger engines, better hot/high performance, etc.) are things that airline buffs and pilots tend to like, but that airline management tends to not really care about too much.

Regarding runway performance, there are very few airports with a combination of heavy demand and short runways, but also limited landing slots (otherwise you just run more flights!). Allegorically, we love that sort of thing - I have fond memories of UA 757's on the DCA-ORD route getting to cruise in about 15 or 20 minutes, but it's hardly relevant to the bottom line for the airline. The extra fuel consumption and higher crew costs (higher seniority pilots for the 757/767 fleets, generally), are noticed by airline management, however.

Of course, what does this mean looking ahead? Well, the 737-9MAX is clearly not getting the same level of interest for the 737 MAX 9 that the A321neo has gotten, but at the same time, the 787 has been selling very well. Boeing can't develop something that's essentially a "smaller 787" just as production has really picked up, nor can they cut into the already tenuous 737 MAX series (at least for the time being).
TWA55 1
The 757 possibly suffered from many outside problems, the airlines were in buy outs, bankruptcy courts, corporate raiders and last but not least fuel prices, and those may have had a huge impact on sales at the time. Airlines and the system itself just did not lend itself to the 757, wrong plane for the times, today's airline industry is so different from those days and the 757 I think would have done much better in today's market with the newer tech.
Tyson Bowers 1
Boring 757?!?!
Kris Durbin 4
Hahaha! Autoco-wreck or Freudian slip? The world may never know!
Mark Duell 2
Kris Durbin 1
I have read all the responses here. That said who here thinks that Boeing blew it in the MOM market? The A321LR isn't even close to the B757. The B737max, 900 aren't even close to the B757. The B707, I mean variations called B737 has outlived it's life. Time for a new design and MOM aircraft.
Jesse Carroll 1
The money grabbers should add more planes per trip! I'm tired of riding next to overstuffed, sweaty hogs! Im 6'2" and 220#'s so I always try for the window or exit seat for more room.
Please someone enlighten me on why the hell they make the back of the plane board last! That's right, make us all climb over or wait for the early boarders and first class to get their stinking drinks before we board! I travel to get from Point A to Point B and not for drinks, food, snacks etc:! Just get me there safely and Ill eat sometime else!
The only time I flew trans-atlantic on a 757 I felt it was small, cramped and noisy, give me any Airbus any day!
Brian James 0
Jim DeTour 0
From my experience with a 757 packing up the units gear on a deployment in the belly of a 757 there wasn't any automated or container loading. It was a load everything by hand on your knees and in non winter conditions it is hot as heck in the cargo hold. I don't think turn around times are good for the plane. I imagine the manufacturer was wanting a lighter aircraft for cheaper fuel costs. Even newer engines burning less money in fuel probably doesn't outweigh the man hours transferring bags instead of having faster baggage container transfers and aircraft back in the air for more revenues. I imagine it would be good for charters not needing a fast turn around for revenue.


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