boeing 757-200 tools royce engines side view

Sorry for the lack of an exciting update today, but I really needed to get my Boeing 757–200 template updated with Rolls Royce engines as soon as possible. You see, I create illustrations of all the aircraft that I fly on for my travel blog, and several weeks ago I flew on a American Airlines 757–200 from Phoenix to San Diego (a really great flight by the way). As you are probably aware, American Airlines 757s are all Rolls Royce powered (and I only had the Pratt & Whitney version illustrated), so this had to be done in order for me to keep up with my normal posting schedule over there. Sometimes I’m really starting to think that my blogs own me, and not the other way around…

Simply drawing a new engine and applying it to my existing 757 template is not as easy as it sounds. The problem was that I needed to find decent reference material which clearly showed all of the tiny little differences between the two versions of this aircraft. Considering that most of those details are under their wing and in the shadows, it’s never easy to find a single “Holy Grail” pic revealing everything. It usually involves scouring through hundreds of photos and picking out a handful of the best to compare with my existing illustration to figure out what the differences are.

It’s exactly like being six years old again and I’m struggling with one of those stupid books which are showing me two silly pictures and I have to figure out which one has the cat holding a hotdog and which one doesn’t. Well, at least I can say that my education paid off, right?

boeing 757-200 rolls royce engines side view blueprint

Side profile line drawing of a Boeing 757-200 with winglets and Rolls Royce engines

The complexities don’t end there either. In this particular case, I created that original 757 template three years ago, back when I was still learning how to do side view airliner templates and I didn’t necessarily have my technique refined and down pat as I do now. Therefore, as I’m working with those old templates, I start to notice little problems here and there that need fixing before I can proceed with the new engine integration. It always takes time to go back and redo portions of those old illustrations to get them up to snuff with my current level of quality, which is a good thing I guess considering how much of a perfectionist I am. I always want to make sure I’m giving you guys the highest quality that I can when it comes to my original source files.

boeing 757-200 rolls royce engines side view

Here’s the all white version without winglets

boeing 757-200 rolls royce engines side view blueprint

And the line drawing without winglets

By now you are probably asking yourself, “Scott, which version of the 757 do you think looks better? The Pratt & Whitney version, or the Rolls Royce version?” Okay, it’s probably more likely that this particular question never even crossed your mind, but I’m really itching to tell you which one I like the best – because I’m opinionated like that! The winner in my book is the Pratt & Whitney powered version, simply because I think the Rolls Royce engines look too small compared to the overall size of the airframe. What do you think?

For my next template, I’m thinking about doing something from scratch instead of making a small update to one of my existing templates such as I did with this one. I haven’t done any Russian aircraft yet other than the SSJ-100, and I know very little about commercial Russian aircraft in general, so I think that would be a lot of fun. But don’t get your hopes up! I haven’t even started anything yet, and I’ve got a week long vacation coming up soon, so my mind could change by the time I come back and get started again. It’s really anyone’s guess which aircraft is coming next…

White Boeing 727 side view

Before I begin, could you please give me a moment so that I can grab another tissue and wipe the tears of nostalgia from my eyes? It should only take a second or two, and you can pass the time browsing some of the other side view airliner templates in my ever-growing collection. The L-1011 is a neat one – I’d recommend giving that one a good look while I compose myself to write this blog post…


OK, I’m ready now. I don’t know what it is about the 727 that brings on such strong feelings of nostalgia in me, but it does so in a very big way each and every time I see one of these things. My first ever flight was way back in the spring of 1982 on a Republic Airlines Boeing 727 from Detroit to Sarasota, and for an eight-year-old boy just starting to become fascinated with airplanes, it was a life-altering experience that I would never forget.

The funny thing was that one of my classmates was also flying to Florida that same week (it was spring break, and nearly all of Michigan migrates to Florida at that time), but he and his family were lucky to be flying a Northwest DC-10. I was so jealous of that, and I remember feeling disappointed that we were only going to be on a stupid little 727. But once we arrived at the airport and I saw that airplane sitting at the gate ready to take us to Florida, it was stimulation overload and I had the time of my life. It was an amazing flight!

The Boeing 727 is the airplane of my childhood. Just as the 737 is the most common airliner in existence today, the 727 was the workhorse of airline fleets worldwide and they were literally everywhere in the 1980’s. It seems that every single airport (big and small) had 727’s flowing in and out of them like water, and I specifically remember watching these airplanes fly low and slow over our house on approach into DTW. *sniff* I think I’m going to need another tissue…

boeing 727-200 blueprint

Technical side profile line drawing of a Boeing 727-200

To this day, I consider the Boeing 727 to be one of the best aircraft designs ever – and that’s not just the nostalgia talking. To think that this thing was designed in the 1960s is just astounding considering that there were no computers back then to help figure out some of the aerodynamic complexities. It still looks as sleek and beautiful today as it did back then, and with slightly bigger engines it could easily pass as a modern-day airliner. The best part to me, by far, is that aggressively swept wing. The wings of the 727 are much more aggressive compared to what we are seeing on modern day aircraft, and it was truly a design way ahead of its time. I had a lot of fun illustrating this one, though I will admit that there were no surprises for me since this is my favorite aircraft, and I pretty much knew everything about it that there is to know (design wise at least – don’t you dare ask me about the technical stuff).

I’ve logged 12 flights on the 727 over the years, with my last one being November 26, 2000 from DEN to SAN on United Airlines. It’s amazing to think that the 727 lasted two more years beyond that at United, with the last one being retired in 2002. Even more amazing is the fact that at the time of this writing, there are still 56 of these aircraft in service today around the world. The 727 has had a really good run, and it will forever hold a place in my heart as the airplane that kicked my fascination with commercial aviation into high gear.

And that’s the end of this blog post, which is a good thing because…well…I’m out of tissues.

MD-90 side view all white

Ok you guys…what is it about the MD-90 that makes you all seem to want a template of it so badly? I mean, this was never really a very popular aircraft with the major airlines, and if it weren’t for Delta Airlines, every last one of them would’ve probably been chopped up and converted into beer cans by now. That can of Redbull sitting next to you on your desk? Yup, that would likely have started it’s life as a McDonnell Douglas MD-90 if it weren’t for Delta’s quirky habit of acquiring older aircraft which every other airline can’t seem to get rid of fast enough.

Let’s look at the numbers. According to Wikipedia, there were only 116 of these things built over the span of seven years (1993-2000), and at the time of this writing, Delta Airlines is the sole remaining operator. They’ve got 61 of these airplanes still in service, and that number is dwindling more and more with each passing year. Oddly enough, I’ve been getting requests to create side view templates of the MD-90 at the rate of roughly one per week for the past year and a half (mostly from different people but there have been a few repeats). If you’re good at math, you’ll know that that is roughly 75 requests for what is essentially an aircraft that was never very popular and is all but extinct. What gives?

Is it safe to assume that the MD-90 has a cult following that I didn’t know about? I’m a fairly regular reader of, and I’m usually in tune with what’s going on in the world of commercial aviation, but I’m not seeing the fascination with this aircraft on the forums over there. Perhaps there really is a secret underground cult following of the MD-90, and if that’s the case, my only conclusion is that you guys aren’t vocal enough. Somebody needs to start a website called or something to take advantage of this hugely untapped market. It sounds stupid, I know, but smelling a business opportunity here is the only thing that pops into my head when trying to decipher the data.

Anyway, on to the templates! I knew right from the beginning that this MD-90 illustration wouldn’t be all that much different from my MD-80 template, as they are basically the same aircraft differentiated by a few minor changes. The biggest change, of course, is that the MD-90 has much bigger and better looking engines then it’s predecessor. The V2500 engines give the MD-90 a really stout and tough looking appearance (especially from a front three-quarter view), which unfortunately makes the MD-80 look absolutely weak and pathetic in comparison. Maybe it’s just because I’m a guy, but judging an aircraft based on how big the engines are and how strong it looks is…well…such a guy thing to do. Size matters!

MD-90 blueprint

Technical side profile line drawing of a McDonnell Douglas MD-90

Another difference which I didn’t know about is the fact that the MD-90 has the same squared-off vertical stabilizer as the Boeing 717. I had originally thought that it was Boeing who created that sharper vertical stabilizer, but it was actually McDonnell Douglas right before the merger. Oddly enough, that’s probably the most interesting tidbit of info that I learned from creating this template. There’s always something, and that’s what makes these templates so dang fun.

So there you have it. The MD-90 templates are now complete, which does make me feel pretty good for getting them done and out of the way. Not as good as realizing that it will stop the inflow of email and requests that I get for this aircraft though! I never could understand the fascination with this oddball aircraft, but I imagine these templates are going to make a lot of you happy. My sincere apologies for the long wait!

all white airbus a318 side view

Did you know that the Airbus A318 has a taller vertical stabilizer than the A319? And that there is a completely different engine option as well? I didn’t either until the evening I sat down to modify my A319 template into this cute little baby bus. The heartburn started heating up after just 30 seconds on Wikipedia, realizing that this one-evening hack job was going to take a lot longer than planned. I hate when that happens, especially when I’ve got so many other airliner templates on my to-do list.

And it wasn’t the taller vertical stabilizer and different engine option that made me reach for the Tums – it turns out that there are a lot of little differences in the engine coverings (for both the CFM56 and Pratt & Whitney options) compared to the A319, and it ended up being faster for me to redraw them from scratch rather than mess around trying to modify the other ones. Oh – and let’s not forget about the details in the engine connection to the wing as well. This ended up being one of those templates that seemed to get more and more complicated the deeper I got into it, and I was kind of regretting taking it on at first.

But you know what? Although it sounds like I’m complaining, the truth is that I’m actually pretty stoked that I learned that the A318 is a lot more than just an A319 with the ends chopped off. There is a lot more that went into the design and engineering of this aircraft than I originally thought, so it’s it’s kind of a shame that it was essentially a failure for Airbus (from a sales and marketing point of view). As a designer myself, I know exactly how demoralizing that can feel. Sometimes the projects I spend the most time on are the biggest failures. It happens, and all you can do is push it aside and move on to the next one.

Airbus A318 side view blueprint

A technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A318 with cfm56 engines – basically, the line drawing version of the illustration at the top of this post.

The Airbus A318 was produced from 2001 through 2013, with only four Airlines operating them at the time of this writing (Air France, Avianca Brasil, Avianca, and TAROM). They never gained traction in the US, and the only ones I ever saw buzzing about were here in Southern California. Frontier Airlines had a handful of them, and occasionally I’d see them operating between DEN and SAN. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to get a ride on one, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t missing much. I can’t imagine it being much more than a fat regional jet anyway, and I’m not a big fan of small airplanes.

On the other hand, the traveler in me is slightly bothered by the fact that this is an active aircraft in regularly scheduled service that is deeply established as an “endangered species” – and time is running out if I want to add the experience to my personal flight log. I’ve been wanting to take a trip to South America soon, so perhaps it would be wise to see if I can hitch a ride with Avianca. Just to say I did it.

airbus a318 side profile pratt & whitney engines

Here’s the all-white version with Pratt & Whitney engines

airbus a318 side profile pratt & whitney engines blueprint

Finally, the line drawing version with Pratt & Whitney engines

Anyway, it feels great to have finished these A318 templates, as that means that I now have the complete Airbus A320 family in my archives (all the way up to the latest and greatest NEO). I can’t help but to hope that these won’t be a flop like the real A318 though…

Next up is the McDonnell Douglas MD-90. A quick check of Wikipedia reveals that the only major visual differences between it and the MD-80 is a slightly lengthened fuselage and (of course) larger engines. As long as there are no surprises, I should be able to crank it out relatively quickly. I am traveling to China next week though, so there will be a slight pause in the action. In the meantime, feel free to tinker with any of my other templates while I’m away, and I’ll get that MD-90 wrapped up as soon as I return!

Dash 8 side view

I didn’t realize it before, but I think that the smaller turboprop aircraft such as this Dash 8 are actually more difficult for me to illustrate than the larger airliners that I normally do. The problem is that these turboprops are a lot smaller, which requires me to zoom in and fill the page a bit more than I would normally would when drawing larger aircraft. My source files for these airliner templates are large format (5000 x 3000 pixels), so making a little airplane fit a canvas that large requires some extra work to make sure that I include all the important little details.

On the flipside, its important to maintain consistency with my other airliner templates. I could easily spend an entire year on a single illustration if I was completely obsessed with including every single little rivet and connection bolt, but these templates were never meant to be used as construction drawings anyway. Because of that, it’s important for me to know when to say when in regards to adding extra detail which I don’t include in any of my other illustrations. It took me a while to figure out what detail I was going to and not going to include in these Dash 8 templates, but I hope you’ll agree with me that I found a decent middle ground which still makes these drawings valuable for a variety of different uses.

Those of you that have been using my templates for a long time know that I illustrated the Q400 way back in 2015, and the nice thing about that is that this smaller -200 version shares a lot of the same components of that larger -400. Unfortunately the Q400 is a lot newer and much more modern than the Dash 8, so I had to modify nearly every one of those components before adding them in. But as I’ve said before, I never would’ve known about these differences if I wasn’t doing these illustrations, so I enjoy doing the research and figuring out the differences between all the sub types.

Dash 8 blueprint

Technical side profile line drawing of a De Havilland DHC-8-200 over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

Speaking of sub types, I learned that there are incredible number of different variations of the De Havilland Dash 8. Basically, there are four main versions: the -100, -200, -300, and -400 – which is more commonly referred to as the Q400. However, within all of those versions are an endless array of sub models which makes the entire lineup sound really confusing and a bit overwhelming. That’s why I felt a twinge of heartburn when, after I had already committed to illustrating the Dash 8, I realized that this is a very convoluted aircraft lineup and simply doing one illustration isn’t going to cover all the bases. Because of that, I simply chose to illustrate the most common variant which seems to be the -200.

To put it in the simplest terms possible, the –200 is a more powerful version of the -100, and the -300 is a slightly stretched version of the -200. The -400 (Q400) is the largest of the Q Series family of aircraft. And if you were curious to know about all of the variations of each of these, I’d recommend checking out Wikipedia for the full scoop. There are simply too many to list here!

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have sent me links to the projects you are working on. I love seeing how you are all using my templates, and it really amazes me how creative you guys and gals are. One of these days I’m going to put a giant post together here on the blog showcasing some of that work. All of what I have seen so far covers the gamut in terms of the types of projects – some are using my templates for livery designs (personal projects, school projects, virtual airlines, etc.), some are using them for technical product demonstrations, and there are even a few of you out there trying to start an actual airline, using my templates (with your branding) as part of your venture-capital presentations. Amazing!

747-400F side view

OK, first of all, I just want to apologize in a very big way for the lack of regular uploads lately. I’ve been receiving bunches of emails from concerned readers who are worried that I had given up airliner template creation for good, but I’m here to tell you that I’m still committed to this project and I’m not giving up anytime soon. As sick as it sounds, I actually love digging through the Internet looking for information which helps me create these very detailed aircraft illustrations. It’s sick and twisted I know, but I’m a very technical kind of guy and this is my kind of work.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I’d like to present to you the templates I promised in my last post way back in November. I should point out that I’ve actually been working on these illustrations for the entire two months that I’ve been absent from this blog, so it’s not like I’ve been sitting on the beach drinking margaritas and wasting my days away. The problem was that I didn’t have the luxury to dedicate a large chunk of time to getting them done, so I had to work on them 10 minutes at a time, here and there, whenever I could find a spare moment in my day to tinker. But now they’re done and ready for you to download and do whatever it is that you usually do to my templates.

747-400F side view blueprint

Technical side profile line drawing of a Boeing 747-400F over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

The Boeing 747-400F is pretty much the aircraft I think of whenever I hear the term “cargo plane”, and I’m not sure that is ever going to change. It was the dominant freighter during the time that I started getting into commercial aviation back in the 90’s so it’s pretty much burned into my brain at this point. Not only that, my very first trip to Anchorage Alaska way back in 2000 helped quite a bit to solidify the 747-400F as the king (I mean queen) of cargo, as it was amazing to see all of them flying in and out of ANC on their journeys between North America and Asia. And if you were wondering, yes, I couldn’t help but wonder if each and every one of them were carrying pallets of rubber dog shit out of Hong Kong.

For those of you who aren’t aware, there are actually two main versions of the 747-400F: those that came from the factory, and those that were converted by Boeing (Boeing Converted Freighters, or BCF for short). The standard 747-400F Versions were designed from the start to be freighters, featuring a large nose door and a shorter upper deck to save weight. The BCF version is an aircraft which started life hauling passengers, and was then converted by Boeing into a cargo hauler after being retired by the airlines. In this case, the interiors were stripped out, the windows filled with plugs, and a small cargo door was installed in the left rear of the fuselage. Note that the side cargo door was optional on the 747-400F, but the nose door was not on the 747-400BCF.

747-400BCF side view

Side profile illustration of a white Boeing 747-400BCF

747-400BCF blueprint side view

Technical side profile line drawing of a Boeing 747-400BCF

So there you have it. I hope these Boeing 747-400F templates are useful to you, and as always, please feel free to reach out to me and let me know how you are using these illustrations. Not only is it very interesting for me to see what you all are doing with them, but it also helps me to refine my technique and create better templates which suits the needs of the majority of users.

Next up: maybe the Boeing 727! Not necessarily because I want to do it, but mainly because I started one a year ago and it’s been sitting half finished in my archives begging to be finished. No promises though, as I have received a few specific requests as of late that I may tackle first…

boeing 777f cargo side view

Just in time for the holiday shipping season, it’s time to start focusing on some cargo aircraft! I’m at the point now where my airliner template collection it’s getting a bit too heavy on the commercial aviation side of things, and with the air cargo industry being as large and strong as it is, it’s probably a pretty good idea that I spend a bit of time going back and creating cargo variants of some of the passenger aircraft that I’ve already done.

Thankfully, cargo variants of commercial passenger aircraft are relatively easy for me to create since I’ve got most of the hard work done already. It’s just a matter of eliminating a few things, adding some cargo doors, and fine-tuning the details. There’s no need to re-create these aircraft templates from scratch, which is going to allow me to bang through these very quickly. Are you ready for this? Let’s do it!

boeing 777f side view line blueprint

Technical side profile line drawing of a Boeing 777F over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

First up is the Boeing 777F, which is the all-cargo variant of the 777–200. Air France was the launch customer for this freighter, and they took delivery of their first airframe in February 2009. At the time of this writing, there are 128 777F’s flying for 30 different operators all over the world. That sounds like a success to me, and it’s only going to get better with so many cargo airlines looking to replace their older 747 and DC-10/MD-11 freighters with much more efficient and capable aircraft such as the 777.

As most of you have probably figured out by now, I’m pretty darn far from being highly-knowledgeable when it comes to anything aerospace engineering related. I am an artist, plain and simple, and I’m much more comfortable pushing pixels that I am trying to learn and understand the reasoning for the placement of every rivet on every aircraft ever made. I just don’t have the patience for that kind of stuff! That’s why I always learn a lot of interesting little things whenever I create a new aircraft template. What exactly did I learn by drawing this 777F? Quite simply, the cargo doors on this thing are really small and it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me.

The only two other cargo aircraft that I’ve illustrated so far are the 767–300F, and the 747–8F. Those two particular aircraft have very large cargo door openings, so that’s why I was surprised to learn that the 777F has only one small door on the left side of the aircraft (towards the rear), and then two other small openings on the right side. How the heck do they manage to fit large stuff (like cars for example) into this aircraft? Wouldn’t they want to make the doors large so as to make loading and offloading cargo as painless as possible? My only theory for the use of small doors is that large doors might compromise the structural rigidity of the airframe. Sounds plausible, right? Please, if there is anybody out there who knows the reason for this, I would love it if you could leave a comment below and tell me that I’m exactly right. lol

The next aircraft template on my list is the cargo variant of the 747-400, which I’ve actually got a pretty good start on already. There will be two variants of that one of course (normal and stretched upper deck), and I hope to have those posted here to the blog very soon.

A319 NEO LEAP engines side view

Have you been enjoying my A320 and A321 NEO side profile templates so far? I hope so. A lot of work goes into into each and every one of these illustrations, and it takes me a lot of time to get them looking as accurate as possible. As long as there are people out there like you who enjoy the work that I’m doing, that’s all I need to keep grinding out more and more templates of commercial airliners. I also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have purchased high-res vector and PSD source files of these templates on my online store – I hope those illustrations are useful for your projects and are helping you succeed in creating some really awesome content.

Now that I’ve got the A320 an A321 NEO templates out of the way, it’s time to post my favorite one of all: the A319. The big new engines combined with the short fuselage makes this aircraft look to be a tough little bugger with more than enough power for any mission, and it seems like it would be an awesome performer for long and thin routes across the US or the Atlantic.

A319 NEO LEAP engines blueprint

Technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A319 NEO with CFM LEAP 1A engines

Unfortunately, with only 51 orders for this aircraft on the books at the time of this writing (and no deliveries yet), most airlines don’t agree with me that this is the best Baby Bus of all. To put that number in better context, the slightly larger A320 NEO has 3688 orders on the books with 138 delivered to date. The A321 variant has 1429 orders with 6 deliveries so far. As much as I hate to admit it, things aren’t looking good for the A319 NEO.

This sort of thing isn’t new to Airbus. They faced a similar problem with the A350-800 – a smaller (but longer-range) variant of the A350-900 and -1000 that hasn’t seemed to catch on yet. As a matter of fact, the only airline with an outstanding order (for 12 frames) is Asiana. Rumor has it that Airbus is trying to talk them out of it and into another type of aircraft instead, and once that happens, this “baby” A350 will likely be killed. Will be A319 NEO face the same fate? If I were a betting man, I’d go all in on “you betcha.”

A319 NEO Pratt & Whitney engines side view

Side profile illustration of a white Airbus A319 NEO with Pratt & Whitney engines

A319 NEO Pratt & Whitney blueprint

Technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A319 NEO with Pratt & Whitney engines

It’s easy to speculate what might happen in the long term, but the honest truth is that I really have no idea if this aircraft will see the light of day. Remember, the A321 wasn’t very popular when it was first released either, so maybe it’s just a matter of time for market conditions to evolve to a point where this re-engined A319 is an attractive option. Airbus obviously sees the potential in it, otherwise they wouldn’t have spent so much time and money putting it out there. Sometimes these things take time.

Until then, it will still be a lot of fun to see all of you take these templates and apply some really great liveries to them (both fantasy and real). And who knows? Maybe some of those illustrations will persuade some of the large airlines to think more seriously about this big-engined A319 and how well it would integrate into their existing fleets. Airbus needs your help! Do them proud.

Finally, I’d like to give you a little information about what is coming next. I’ve had a lot of requests for cargo aircraft, so I will likely do a 747-400F, followed up quickly by a 777F, and then a 757-200F. These shouldn’t take very long to do, so you can expect to see them on the blog (and store) relatively quickly. However, I will need to fit these in between the work I’m doing on my travel blog and some cleanup of some of my older templates. That’s right…I said cleanup.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, I’ve been working very hard over the past few months cleaning up and refreshing a lot of my old airliner templates for the online store. I’ve been adding more details, smoothing out the shading, and making the PSD files much more organized than the originals. It’s a lot of work to go back through and rework some of those old templates, but I feel it’s important because I want to give you guys the best possible product that I can. I know I’m a bit slow at times creating new templates, but it makes me feel good to take my time to get things right instead of rushing and pushing inferior illustrations.

Thank you as always for your support. You guys rock!

A321 NEO side view no livery

I suspect this is the one you’ve all been waiting for. The A321 NEO seems to be all the rage right now and I’ve completely lost track of the number of times that I’ve been asked to create these Illustrations over the past several weeks. I’m not really sure what happened, but all of a sudden everybody seemed to need this template right away and I was starting to feel the pressure to get it done as soon as possible. Was there a big airline order or something that I missed? I’m not really sure what the reason is for the sudden demand, but I’m happy (and a bit relieved) to post these side view templates today and make them available to all.

A321 NEO side view line drawing

Technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A321 NEO with Pratt & Whitney engines

The images above featured the A321 with Pratt & Whitney engines. Here are the CFM versions:

a321 neo leap 1a engines side view

Side profile illustration of a white Airbus A321 NEO with CFM LEAP 1A engines

Airbus a321 neo leap 1a engines blueprint

Technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A321 NEO with LEAP 1A engines

The story of the Airbus A321 has been quite interesting to me. I remember vividly when it first came out in 1994, because it seemed to be a flop right from the start due to an apparent lack of demand – at least outside of Europe. There were no airlines in the US interested in it other than USAirways, and the only place that it seemed to get any traction at all was with the airlines in Europe needing an aircraft of this size. For medium density intra-European routes, it seemed to be the perfect aircraft that fit the gap between 737/A320 and larger aircraft such as 767 and A330. But here in the US (and the rest of the world), it just didn’t have the performance needed for difficult missions such as flying westbound Transcon US routes into strong headwinds without payload restrictions, and flying out of hot and high airports such as Denver and Salt Lake City. The Boeing 757 was much better suited for the US airline market at that time.

20 years later, and look where we are now. The 757 is long gone, and these new A321 NEO aircraft are selling like hotcakes all over the world. They simply can’t make enough of them! With the new engines and a plethora of other improvements, Airbus has transformed the A321 into what many consider to be the next-generation 757, and I’m willing to bet that the executives at Boeing are squirming in their seats a little trying to figure out how to gain back some of that lost marketshare. Boeing simply doesn’t have an aircraft that can compete with the A321 NEO right now, though the 737-900/ER (and the coming 737 MAX 9 and 10) comes close. This is a very subjective argument I know, and there are some who may disagree with me on this, but the fact of the matter is Airbus caught Boeing asleep at the wheel and took advantage of a gaping hole in the market left behind by the cancellation of the 757.

In Boeing’s defense, they had every reason to cancel the 757 program in 2004. The economy was still recovering from a deep recession at the time, and orders for the aircraft had completely dried up. It was a very dark phase for the airline industry, and the trend most analysts were predicting was that the airlines were going to prefer smaller aircraft and higher frequencies going forward. That’s when they went all-in on the 737 program and started pushing it as the ultimate 757 replacement with new longer-range variants with higher efficiency compared to the older models.

But here we are in 2017, and there are a lot of airlines with older 757s being retired that need to be replaced. Unfortunately for Boeing, Airbus simply has a better product right now with their A321 NEO. In my opinion, this was a big goof on Boeing’s part. US airlines in particular have depended on the 757 as the backbone of their route structures for years, and with the overall economy as strong as it is right now, there is a need again for an aircraft of this size. There are a lot of old and tired 757s out there, and now that they are starting to be retired in mass quantities, it amounts to a heck of a lot of airplanes that need replacing. Unfortunately for them, many of those replacement orders are going to Airbus.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m pretty darn far from being an airline CEO, but it boggles my mind that Boeing hasn’t been working on a true 757 replacement for at least a few years now. Why they decided to go all in on the 737 (an aircraft that was originally designed in the 1960s) is something I can’t quite comprehend. I get the fact that it probably saved them a lot of money in the short term, but all they were doing was just kicking the can down the road and delaying the inevitable. They’ve done pretty much all they can to the 737 at this point, and if they want to compete with Airbus in the middle of the market (MOM) segment, it’s going to require an all-new aircraft. They need to get busy, but it may be too late.

My apologies for turning this into a history lesson/rant on the middle of the market airline segment, but as I said – this is the topic I find kind of fascinating and it’s been interesting to watch how Airbus and Boeing completely swamped leadership positions in that regard. Airbus has a hit with the A321 NEO on their hands, and we’re going to be seeing a lot of these things flying around for the next 30 to 40 years. Get ready.

My next side view airliner template (coming soon) will be the last one in the series: the A319 NEO. From a visual point of view, it’s my favorite one by far. Stubby bodies with fat engines…what’s not to like about that?!

A320 NEO side view no titles

Here we go ladies and gentlemen. Finally, after more than two years of procrastination and kicking the can down the road, I present to you my Airbus A320 NEO side view template set. In my defense, there was a pretty good reason for waiting so long to do these illustrations: the lack of accurate reference material. Now, we all know that these new aircraft have been flying around for a while now, but there is actually very little data out there on the Internet regarding the list of changes that went into this very big update for the Airbus narrowbody series. I found plenty of good information about the new CFM LEAP 1A and Pratt & Whitney 1000G engines, but it was surprisingly difficult to find information about other significant updates to the aircraft (if there were any).

I’d also like to point out that I’m pretty darn far from being an aircraft engineer. As a matter fact, I even struggle when trying to assemble IKEA furniture so it would be in your best interest never to depend on me for thinking too deeply about anything that could crash, burn and kill people. However, after weeks of research, I came to the conclusion that there are actually very few visual differences between the existing version of these aircraft (CEO, which stands for Current Engine Option) compared to the new-engine (NEO) variants. It’s basically the same airplane but with meatier looking and much more efficient engines, which actually surprised me a bit considering how much time and effort Airbus put into this update. I was actually expecting major wing modifications and taller landing gear to accommodate those larger powerplants, but nope. Other than general internal modifications to both, there isn’t much on the outside to differentiate them from the older versions. But wow – it’s amazing how much of a visual difference a big engine can make.

Airbus A320 NEO line drawing

Technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A320 NEO with Pratt & Whitney engines over a blank background with and without the landing gear deployed

You should all know my stance on beefy-looking aircraft by now, so it goes without saying that I’m pretty much drooling over the A320 NEO – especially the version with those fat Pratt & Whitney engines hanging under the wing. I was never much of a fan of the A320 before this, but now it may be one of my favorite aircraft in terms of visual appearance. This is what the A320 should’ve looked like from the beginning! I’m also thinking that it’s a bit of a shame that Boeing couldn’t find a way to put larger engines on the next-generation of the 737. Doing so would have required a taller (and all new) landing gear, which would have added significant cost to the program. Airbus got very lucky that that they didn’t have to do that.

The all white and line-drawing templates above are the version with the Pratt and Whitney 1000G engines. Here are the same templates with the CFM LEAP 1A engines. Which do you prefer?

A320 NEO CFM engines side view

All white Airbus A320 NEO with CFM LEAP 1A engines

A320 NEO CFM engines line drawing

Airbus A320 NEO technical line drawing with CFM LEAP 1A engines

To be honest, I actually prefer the look of the LEAP 1A engine, but it’s smaller size compared to the Pratt & Whitney is less appealing to me. And now that I think of it, it’s probably a pretty good thing that I don’t run an airline because the visual designer in me tends to make decisions based more on visual appearances than anything else. That may be very bad for running a profitable business, but I would have one heck of a good looking fleet that’s for sure.

For those of you looking for the A319 and A321 NEO templates as well, you’re in luck. Both are currently in progress and I’m very close to having the A321 ready to upload. The A319 will follow shortly thereafter (hopefully within a week). I’d also like to use this opportunity to ask those of you who know these aircraft well if I have drawn anything incorrectly in my templates. Because hey – if I’m struggling to assemble IKEA furniture, there’s a pretty good chance that I could have overlooked something huge without even knowing it.