Honeywell’s Boeing 757-200 testbed has reached a new milestone after turning 40, the company has announced.

The jet has been used for research and development by the aerospace leader since it was acquired in 2005. However its history stretches back to when it rolled off the production line in June 1982.

Fifth 757 to roll off assembly line

The aircraft entered service for Eastern Airlines in 1983 – just the fifth 757 to roll off the assembly line – and more than 1,000 would eventually be produced. Although 757s are still in service at airlines around the world, many have been retired in recent years and replaced with newer aircraft.

Honeywell Aerospace’s test flight department and engineers have used the 757 to test many technological advancements, from turbine engines to electrical and mechanical systems, to advanced avionics software and high-speed connectivity equipment.

No retirement plan

Honeywell said it has no plans to retire the 757 test aircraft.

“For the past 17 years, we have made so many technological modifications to our beloved 757 test aircraft that the only thing turning 40 years old is likely the fuselage itself,” said Captain Joe Duval, director, Flight Test Operations, Honeywell Aerospace.

“We’re among a select few pilots in the industry who have the responsibility to push an aircraft close to its limits. We’ve intentionally flown into nasty storms to test our radars, and we’ve flown toward more mountains than I can count to test our ground proximity warning systems. Our 757 has been the dependable workhorse that allows us to test a whole slew of technologies, including the engines we produce for business jets and smaller aircraft.”

Protruding pylon

The pylon protruding from the fuselage of the 757 is its most noticeable characteristic. Although a third engine is not always attached, the pylon allows Honeywell to test its turbojet and turbofan engines in real-world conditions and gather critical data that helps with engine development.

“The plane tends to draw a lot of attention, whether we’re at an airshow with thousands of people or I’m scrolling through Twitter, and I notice a plane spotter that posted a photo of it,” Duval said. “It has a special place in the AvGeek community, and I’m glad it does because it’s helping create a more sustainable and digital future for aviation.”

25 seats and 3,000 hours

Honeywell’s testbed has only 25 seats to accompany a wide variety of flight test engineering stations and has conducted more than 800 flight tests, clocking more than 3,000 flight test hours globally.

Technology that has been tested on Honeywell’s 757 testbed includes the IntuVue RDR- 4000 Weather Radar and IntuVue RDR-7000 Weather Radar – Honeywell’s family of advanced 3D weather radar systems for air transport, business and military aircraft; Next-generation flight management systems (NGFMS) – an FMS that provides the primary navigation, flight planning, and optimised route determination and enroute guidance for an aircraft; and the HTF7000 engine series – business jet propulsion systems.

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