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Turning 40 looks good on Honeywell’s B757 test aircraft

Turning 40 looks good on Honeywell’s B757 test aircraft

I’m 40 years old, and, let me tell you, I’ve been through a lot. I’ve been heavily modified, nearly rebuilt and then modified some more. I’ve had more parts installed and uninstalled than I care to count. Along the way I even grew a third “arm.” To say ‘I’ve had a little work done’ is an understatement. 

Who am I?

Well, I’m not a professional athlete who’s dealt with a laundry list of injuries and surgeries. I’m not the ol’ fixer-upper at the end of the block, and I’m not the classic car your grandfather kept in his barn. But I am one of the oldest and one of the most technologically-advanced of my kind. That might not make sense on the surface, but that’s probably because we haven’t met.

Hello. I’m Honeywell’s Boeing 757 test aircraft, and I just turned 40 years old. It’s been a wild ride, and I’m not grounding myself any time soon.

I spend my days now traveling the world and testing the most advanced aerospace technology available. In fact, much of the technology that I fly around is what you’ll see in everyday passenger aircraft in the decades to come. But I didn’t always live such an exciting life. When I rolled off the assembly line in 1982, I was a 757 like all the others – hauling about 200 people around between a few cities and just trying to keep Coke stains off my carpet and peanuts out of my seats.

After flying for Eastern Air Lines until 1995, I then had a few shorter stints before Honeywell acquired me from My Travel Airways. That’s when, at the ripe old age of 23, my life changed dramatically. Before I knew it, I lost a ton of weight (approximately 15,000 pounds as Honeywell engineers turned me into a flying testbed) and I was in the best shape of my life. I was ready for anything – even though I couldn’t predict the wild adventures that would await.

Some of my first memories at Honeywell were being piloted directly at mountains in the Arizona desert to help test Honeywell’s Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System. I assure you this technology works. After all, I’m still here writing this today.

Over the years, I’ve missed more runways on approach than I can count – but that’s on purpose, of course. What better way to test Honeywell’s SmartLanding and SmartRunway systems?

My biggest modification after coming to Honeywell is hard to miss – a pylon protruding from my right side where an additional engine can be attached for testing. It’s universal across any engine mount or nacelle configuration, and the design is built to handle an engine that produces upwards of 16,500 pounds of thrust. Honeywell’s HTF7000, TFE731 and TPE331 have all flown with me in the past, and there’s no better way to test them than to hitch a ride with me.

Now I have no way to completely confirm this, but sometimes I tell the other planes on the tarmac that I’m probably the most well-traveled 757 in history. During my time with Honeywell, I’ve visited more than 30 countries across five continents. That’s the kind of experience that comes with more than 800 test flights and more than 3,000 flight test hours. I don’t have the range from my home base of Phoenix Sky Harbor to make it all the way to Asia without a fuel stop, but I don’t mind a little island time along the way.

As I enter my fifth decade of flying, I can’t help but feel optimistic for what’s ahead – not just for myself but aviation in general. We’re in the early stages of Advanced Air Mobility, and I get the feeling before I retire that I’m going to see a whole slew of new aircraft types in the sky. Most will fly a bit lower than I’m used to, but I’m all for helping people move through the air in smart, sustainable ways. Much of the technology to make this happen is ready now, and Honeywell is helping make this a reality. I like to think I had a little to do with bringing all this advanced technology to the next era of flight.  

Despite all my modifications, all my different liveries and all the places I’ve traveled, I assure you I have no plans to retire any time soon. Here’s to more flights, more mods and more testing of the best technology in aviation. 

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