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Identify This Plane!  
User currently offlineBokratensa From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (13 years 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 1121 times:

Some airplanes like 747, DC-10, A320, and A340 have distinctive look. But almost all other airliners look similar. How can you identify an airplane just by looking at it? Can anyone share some tips in how to recognize an airliner?


Good Day!

14 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineSushka From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 4784 posts, RR: 14
Reply 1, posted (13 years 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 960 times:

There are many ways to tell:

number of saftey exits

An A320 has four saftey exist while an A319 has only two.

Pershoyu Spravoyu Litaki!
User currently offlineAerorobnz From Rwanda, joined Feb 2001, 7119 posts, RR: 13
Reply 2, posted (13 years 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 938 times:

identify the airline first, then you will be more able to identify the plane type from your knowledge on the airline.

User currently offlineApuneger From Belgium, joined Sep 2000, 3031 posts, RR: 12
Reply 3, posted (13 years 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 884 times:

When I look at a plane, I can tell what type it is, by looking at the aircraft as a whole. It's the combination of noseshape, engines, airline, landing gear, shape of tail,... that gives me the ability to identify a plane. But, after a while however, you can almost identify a plane just by looking at an engine, or the windshield.

You'll see, you'll gain some experience after a while!


Ivan Coninx - Brussels Aviation Photography
User currently offlineDoug_or From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3399 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (13 years 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 854 times:

tailcone (beaver/scredriver style for 777 vs cone for A300)
and flap tracks (a300 has many more than 767 for instance)
are also very helpful.

down load a good side shot of all planes you are confused with and find the diffrences that you notice. just be carful when counting on winglets. many types (a310 A320 737 NG have them on only some planes)

When in doubt, one B pump off
User currently offlineTupolev154B2 From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1332 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (13 years 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 835 times:

- Shape of the cockpit and in some cases cabin windows

- Looking at the airline that operates it then from your knowledge of the airline's fleet figure out what it is. For example, any AA 737 is an -800.

User currently offlinePronto From Canada, joined Mar 2000, 328 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (13 years 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 802 times:

Shape of nose, wing shape, tail shape. Different types which are similar, overwing exits(if you're close enough!) is the easiest way(A319/320, for example)), or a quick eyeball of windows behind front exit(737-500/300) - otherwise you'll be judging if it looks 'stubby' or not...

User currently offlineServisair From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 37 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (13 years 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 785 times:

I Find that identifying airliners by the number of doors, windows, escape exits tends to be unreliable as different airlines may operate the same A/C but with a differnet config.

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Chris Sheldon

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Chris Sheldon

Compare the above. Look at the shape of the rear fuselage and you will see that on the A300 B4(No winglets), the keel curves all the way up to meet the APU while the top of the fuselage remains virtually flat all the way to the APU. Now look at the 767 and you will see that both lower and upper fuselage curve up and down to meet the APU roughly in the middle. This applies to almost all Airbus/Boeing A/C except the 737/747/777. Another way to tell the difference is to look at the flap track covers. The A300's are consierably larger and there are more of them (5 opposed to 3 on the 767). The shape of the canopy can also be a givaway. Both Airbus and Boeing have highly distinctive canopy shapes that are present thorughout their entire ranges.

Other things to look for are wing root fairings (Large 'bulge' on the 767, almost no-existant on the A300), window shape (If close enough) and undercarriage (6, 4 or 2 wheels.

Different versions of the same aircraft can be harder to identify but again there are subtle differences. Normally in fuselage length or winglets etc. On the 737's its best to look at the size of the fin, engine cowling shape and pitot head placement to get some idea of which is which.

If your still awake, I hope this helps a little!

30 Yeras in the Biz...
User currently offlineSSTjumbo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (13 years 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 763 times:

Some things that I do are:

MD-80/717- listen for the sound of the engines as they fly overhead. the 717 will have a low, shrill whine due to the BR715 engines

A320/737- look at the tailfin. The A320's will look more like a 777's tail fin while the 737's front end of the tailfin will angle in to the fuselage. Also, listen for the sound in the air. The A320 will have a multi-pitched teapot whistle in the sound (I believe with the V2500 engines)

757's wings look a little like the 727's wings with less sweepback.

These are some of the ways I can identify aircraft. Big grin

User currently offlineVgnAtl747 From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 1513 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (13 years 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 754 times:

You pick it up after a while. Just start looking at aircraft, and eventually you'll notice things that set that aircraft apart.

Work Hard. Fly Right. Continental Airlines
User currently offlineMirrodie From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 7438 posts, RR: 62
Reply 10, posted (13 years 5 days ago) and read 726 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!


I posted on this a while ago and a member named Cfalk really took it to the mat and schooled me well.

If the following link doesn't work, search for the post titled "reverse thrust, aerial photos and spottin' planes"

But this link should work. Cfalk posted all these images and showed the difference between the planes. Check it out:


Forum moderator 2001-2010; He's a pedantic, pontificating, pretentious bastard, a belligerent old fart, a worthless st
User currently offlineEGGD From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2001, 12443 posts, RR: 35
Reply 11, posted (13 years 5 days ago) and read 719 times:

It really does just become knowledge after a while. Without looking at a distinguishing feature i can tell the difference between an A320 and a B737, simply because i know the shape is that type. Same with the A300 and B767.

B777 can become difficult sometimes because with the twin engined aircraft it does become a little more difficult, but it all becomes common knowledge after a while!

Regards, Dan

User currently offlineBokratensa From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (13 years 5 days ago) and read 714 times:

Thanks so much for the link. I'd recommend it to everyone.


User currently offlineSSTjumbo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (13 years 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 669 times:

How do you tell apart a 767 and an A300? That has always been my pet peeve. Thanx!!!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

User currently offlineFanofjets From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 1956 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (13 years 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 633 times:

The 767 has more tapered wings, stabilizers, and tail, i.e., they end in a sharper point than with the French twin. The A300s flap track fairings are much more distinctive (and numerous) than those of the 767. The A300 is one of the few planes I can identify from the sound of its engines: for some reason, the A300s engines emit a louder sound than those of the 767, no matter what type of engines the Boeing product is equipped with. Why the A300 is so loud during approach is a mystery to me, as DC-10s, 747s, and 767s are also available with CF-6s.

The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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