The Boeing 757-200 sported "new technology wing and engines to give the best fuel mileage of any standard-body airliner" in 1982. On a 500-mile flight, the 757-200 provided about 45 percent better fuel efficiency than the Boeing 727 it replaced in the Delta fleet. The 757 also had more seats than the 727 (187 compared to 148), and required a crew of two pilots and six flight attendants, while the older 727 required a crew of three pilots and four flight attendants.
Delta was the launch customer for the PW2037 engine, which provided 10 percent more fuel efficiency than the earlier JT10D Pratt & Whitney engine offered on the 757 (the 757 was launched with Rolls Royce engine). "We felt it was worth waiting for," said Ron Allen, Delta president and CEO, when Delta's first 757 arrived in1984. Other commercial customers for the PW2037 included Northwest Airlines, with twenty 757s on order.
A new Boeing wing design, fitted with double-slotted trailing edge flaps and full-span leading edge slats, made possible take-offs with a full passenger load with about 1,250 feet less runway than required for the advanced 727 for a 1,500 nautical-mile trip. With its new wing and high thrust engines, the 757 could cruise at a higher altitude than the advanced 727-200, allowing greater fuel savings and use of higher airways.
The 757's four-wheel main landing gear units allowed operations on runways previously closed to commercial planes of its size. Pavement loading was the same as that of the smaller 737.
The 757 shared common systems with the Boeing 767, including advanced wing technology, air conditioning packs and auxiliary power unit. The two planes also had similar flight deck designs, so the FAA allowed pilots who flew the 767 to also fly the 757 without going through additional training. Delta, the first carrier to fly both the 757 and 767, made commercial aviation history in 1984, when two of its pilots completed a demonstration of common-type pilot rating.
The first 757 delivered to Delta was Ship 602 (N602DL), which arrived in Atlanta on November 5, 1984.
Delta inaugurated 757 service on December 1, 1984. Inaugural flight: Atlanta-Birmingham, Alabama-Dayton, Ohio.
In 1992, Delta received the 500th 757 made by Boeing.
Delta operates the largest 757 fleet in the world since July 2007, when American Airline retired 757s inherited from a buyout of TWA.
757s stand out in the Delta fleet for the number of commemorative paint schemes they have sported. Some iconic looks of Delta's 757s:
Delta's 100th Boeing 757, Ship 6701 (N6701), was named "Soaring Spirit" and painted to promote Delta as Official Airline of the 2002 Olympic Games, held in Salt Lake City.
Ship 627 (N627DL), named "Hank Aaron 755," carried artwork of Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and Home Run King Hank Aaron, June 2007.
Ship 610 (N610DL) "Pink Plane" painted in October 2005 for Delta low-cost carrier Song, raised awareness of the fight against breast cancer and for its partner, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). After Song was discontinued in 2006, Delta continued the tradition.
Ship 638 (N638DL) was the first to carry the new Delta brand—a three-dimensional, red "Widget" icon flying across a blue background—when it was unveiled on April 30, 2007.
Ship 6715 (N6715C) "GRAMMY Plane" carried the GRAMMY Awards' iconic gramophone symbol on February 7, 2008. As the official airline of the GRAMMY Awards, Delta joined with The Recording Academy to host a live, in-flight concert by John Legend at 30,000 feet on a special flight for music fans flying from New York-JFK to Los Angeles for the 50th annual GRAMMY Awards.
757-212 & -26D
In 1996, Delta acquired four Boeing 757-212 aircraft: N750AT, N751AT, N752AT and N757AT (Ships 6901-6904). All were built in 1984, delivered to Singapore Airlines, and then flew with ATA.
Delta also acquired one 757-26D (N900PC, Ship 691), delivered on January 21, 1997. It was previously operated by Shanghai Airlines.
Song's 757 Fleet
Delta's innovative low-cost carrier Song, which operated from 2003-2006, flew a fleet of specially-configured Boeing 757-200s. The entire cabin was one class with leather seats and a free personal entertainment system at every seat, featuring audio MP-3 programmable selections, trivia games that could be played against other passengers, a flight tracker, and satellite television provided by the DISH Network.
At the height of its operations in 2005, Song flew 48 Boeing 757-200s to 16 locations, including Atlanta; Hartford, Connecticut; Los Angeles; Las Vegas; New York; Seattle; San Francisco; five cities in Florida and three Caribbean vacation spots — Nassau; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Aruba. The airline operated over 200 flights a day.
Delta announced plans to fold Song into Delta's domestic operations on October 28, 2005. Song operated its last flight on April 30, 2006, and service shifted to mainline Delta on May 1, 2006.
Delta returned Song's Boeing 757 planes from one-class to two-class cabins, but expanded Song's seat-back entertainment systems and leather seats to other aircraft in the Delta fleet.
Former Song 757s started appearing on Delta's transcontinental routes in Fall 2006. The last green-and-white Song 757 was repainted in Delta livery in January 2008.
In 2007, Delta entered into leasing agreements to acquire Boeing 757-200 extended range twin-engine (ETOPS) certified aircraft. The 757-200 ETOPS could fly up to 4,520 miles or approximately 9 hours and 15 minutes of flight time, and serve Delta destinations in North America, the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe. The aircraft were equipped with winglets to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency and range.
The 17 Boeing 757-231 and -2Q8 models, former American Airlines and TWA planes, were delivered to Delta in July 15, 2007-March 14, 2008, and assigned Ship Numbers 6801-6817. Upon delivery the planes operated with 22 first class and 158 coach class seats with interior upgrades. Beginning in December 2007, the seats were replaced with 16 BusinessElite seats and 158 slim-line seats in coach. Delta also added in-seat entertainment system and enhanced crew rest areas. Galleys and lavatories were refreshed. Rather than the standard 6 doors and 4 window exits, this version of the 757 had eight doors.
757-251 & -351
From a merger with Northwest Airlines, Delta acquired 45 Boeing 757-251s and 16 757-351s—this was Delta's first 757-300 model. Northwest merged with Delta on October 29, 2008, and the merged airline began single operations on January 31, 2009.
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