Identify This Plane!

Mon Jul 09, 2001 7:21 pm

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?


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RE: Identify This Plane!

Mon Jul 09, 2001 7:55 pm

There are many ways to tell:

number of saftey exits

An A320 has four saftey exist while an A319 has only two.
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RE: Identify This Plane!

Mon Jul 09, 2001 7:57 pm

identify the airline first, then you will be more able to identify the plane type from your knowledge on the airline.
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RE: Identify This Plane!

Mon Jul 09, 2001 10:06 pm

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!

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RE: Identify This Plane!

Mon Jul 09, 2001 11:17 pm

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)
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RE: Identify This Plane!

Mon Jul 09, 2001 11:37 pm

- 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.
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RE: Identify This Plane!

Tue Jul 10, 2001 1:20 am

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...
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RE: Identify This Plane!

Tue Jul 10, 2001 2:17 am

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.

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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!
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RE: Identify This Plane!

Tue Jul 10, 2001 3:19 am

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
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RE: Identify This Plane!

Tue Jul 10, 2001 3:28 am

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

Tue Jul 10, 2001 4:54 am


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:
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RE: Identify This Plane!

Tue Jul 10, 2001 5:00 am

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

RE: Identify This Plane!

Tue Jul 10, 2001 5:25 am

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

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RE: Eggd

Tue Jul 10, 2001 2:12 pm

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

Wed Jul 11, 2001 8:32 am

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.
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