The Boeing 757 vs Boeing 767 – Which Plane Is Better?

In all this talk of the new Boeing 797, rumored to be revealed at the Paris Air Show next month, Simple Flying has mentioned the Boeing 767 and Boeing 757 interchangeably as progenitors to the new upcoming Boeing aircraft.

767 757
Can you tell the difference between the two? Source: Wikimedia / Flickr

But what exactly were the Boeing 757 and 767, and how did they compare to each other?

What are the main differences?

The main difference between the two aircraft is one is a narrowbody twin-engine aircraft (757) and the other is a wide-body twin-aisle twin-engine jet (767). Both aircraft were developed simultaneously by Boeing, to fill two separate but important niches.

The Boeing 757 is designed to replace the Boeing 727, the most popular selling Boeing aircraft at the time. It would be bigger and be able to fly a longer distance and work well on the short runways that were popular back in that era.

727 767
Predecessor and successor: an Air Atlantis 727-200 and an Air Europe 757-200. Photo: Wikimedia

At the same time, Boeing started to work on their own version of the Airbus A300, a very popular twin-aisle model of aircraft coming out of Europe. It would be designed to cater to medium haul high-density routes.

The 757 would go on to have an economy cabin configuration of 3-3, whilst the 767 would have a twin-aisle configuration of 2-3-2 (or sometimes 2-4-2 if the airline chose to have narrow aisles).

Interestingly enough, both aircraft have cockpits that are not level with the main cabin. On the Boeing 757, pilots must step down to reach the controls, whilst on the 767, they must step up.

However, they are so similar when it comes to controlling surfaces, cockpit layout, and aerodynamics that both aircraft received the same type rating from the FAA. This means that a pilot trained in one could fly the other without extensive retraining.

Direct comparison

Let’s look at the two aircraft families side by side:

Model Passengers (2-Class) Range
757-200 200 3,915nmi / 7,250 km
757-300 243 3,400nmi / 6,295 km
767-200 / ER 214 3,900 nmi (7,200 km) –
ER 6,590 nmi (12,200 km)
767-300 / ER 261 3,900 nmi (7,200 km) –
ER 5,980 nmi (11,070 km)
767-400 296 5,625 nmi (10,415 km)

The 767, with its two aisles and wider body, was easily able to carry more passengers on the whole than the 757. Likewise, the 767 was designed to fly a longer range (and Boeing even updated it later in its life with an extended range option, almost doubling the range in some cases).

The first Boeing 767 takes flight in Seattle. Photo: Wikimedia

Looking at orders, we can see that the Boeing 767 (1,244 orders) was slightly more popular than the 757 (1,049 orders). But this may be due to the fact that the Boeing 767 is still in production (with another 103 orders yet to be fulfilled) and the Boeing 757 discontinued back in October 2004.

Which plane is better?

It is hard to say which of the two aircraft is better. They were both designed for completely different markets and carriers and were marketed as such.

But it is clear to see which Airlines favored, the Boeing 767. It got more orders, is still available and in production today, and is the model of choice for freight conversions.

What do you think? Which is the best aircraft? Let us know in the comments!