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    Sky Giants: A Veteran Pilot’s Take on the Best of Boeing

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    Boeing 777-300
    Boeing 777-300

    For our readers, who not only marvel at the mechanics of military might but also at the wonders of aviation and the vehicles that have shaped our modern world, the story of the best commercial aircraft, as told by a retired captain, will likely capture both imagination and attention.

    Boeing 777-200
    Boeing 777-200

    Retired Captain Richard J. Levy, with a commanding experience of nearly 41 years in the skies, heralds the Boeing 777 as the pinnacle of commercial aircraft.

    Boeing 777 aircraft at Karachi airport, Pakistan
    Boeing 777 aircraft at Karachi airport, Pakistan

    It is a plane that not only revolutionized air travel when it debuted in the mid-1990s but continues to be the touchstone for improvement.

    Airplane
    Airplane

    It’s not just its size—though it is the largest twinjet in the world—or its capacity to hold up to 397 passengers that sets the 777 apart.

    Boeing 777-200
    Boeing 777-200

    Levy’s significant praise comes from its usability: “The 777 would fly long distances, and have the navigation equipment to fly worldwide, including over the Polar regions,” he recounted.

    Boeing 777-200
    Boeing 777-200

    He also highlighting the sophisticated Autoland system that allows for nearly seamless touchdowns: “How good was the Autoland? Almost every time, it made a landing so smooth you would hardly notice you were on the ground.”

    Jet airplane
    Jet airplane

    The aviation landscape is rich with histories of such majestic birds. Levy’s fondness for the Boeing 727, despite its age, speaks volumes.

    OSRL Boeing 727
    OSRL Boeing 727

    “I loved the Boeing 727 because it was one of the last models with older technology. It was always challenging to make a ‘grease job’ in the 727,” he noted, recalling the skill required to land the speedy aircraft smoothly.

    Modern jet airplane
    Modern jet airplane

    The 727 might have encountered turbulence, both literally and figuratively, but modifications in training procedures helped it regain passenger trust.

    OSRL Boeing 727 landing
    OSRL Boeing 727 landing

    However, the story of Boeing’s accomplishments doesn’t end with the 777 or the 727. The Boeing 757 and 767 also receive honorable mentions from Levy.

    Luqa, Malta - July 16, 2023: Condor Boeing 757-330 (Reg: D-ABOM) in the new stripes livery.
    Luqa, Malta – July 16, 2023: Condor Boeing 757-330 (Reg: D-ABOM) in the new stripes livery.

    The 757, for instance, with its powerful engines and ability to take off from short runways, was a game-changer for accessing more remote and challenging airports.

    Boryspil, Ukraine - September 25, 2020: Azur Air Ukraine Boeing 767-300ER is landing in the airport
    Boryspil, Ukraine – September 25, 2020: Azur Air Ukraine Boeing 767-300ER is landing in the airport

    Meanwhile, the 767 brought a new level of technology that made “long distance and worldwide international flying simple and fun.”

    Hamburg fuhlsbttel - 18.10.2017 Boeing 757 of Condor Airlines takeoff from Hamburg airport 18.10.2017 in Hamburg, Germany
    Hamburg fuhlsbttel – 18.10.2017 Boeing 757 of Condor Airlines takeoff from Hamburg airport 18.10.2017 in Hamburg, Germany

    As time marches on, some of these models are seeing their twilight years, with only a handful of 727s and less than 200 of the 757s still in service as of 2023.

    Krakow, Poland - 14.7.2019 Boeing 737 Ryanair in John Paul II Balice Krakow Airport in 14.7.2019 in Krakow, Poland
    Krakow, Poland – 14.7.2019 Boeing 737 Ryanair in John Paul II Balice Krakow Airport in 14.7.2019 in Krakow, Poland

    And despite its popularity, notably absent from Levy’s favorites is the ubiquitous Boeing 737, which, while being a top seller for Boeing and one of the most produced aircraft worldwide, faces its own set of challenges and changes.

    Boeing 737 NG / Max - Ryanair - Henri Coanda Airport, Otopeni, R
    Boeing 737 NG / Max – Ryanair – Henri Coanda Airport, Otopeni, R

    Making its debut in the late 1960s, the 737 has endured in production longer than certain models favored by Levy, owing to the continuous evolution of the product line. Although the 737-100 series was retired in 2005, the line perseveres through the Max variant. Recently, the Max has garnered negative attention for various issues, leading Boeing to announce in March 2024 the replacement of its CEO Dave Calhoun due to a string of incidents affecting the flagship aircraft.

    Relevant articles:
    The 4 Best Commercial Aircraft To Fly, According To A Veteran Pilot, SlashGear
    The Most Popular Type Ratings for Pilots, alliance-training.com
    Technically Advanced Airplanes, AOPA

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