Airbus and Boeing Spotting Guide


There are easily over twenty models of jet airliners in use by airlines around the world today, plus variations and modified versions.

Included on this page is a quick and easy guide to spotting the common Boeing and Airbus jet airliners of the day.

A Few Notable Differences Between Airbus and Boeing Jet Airliners

The typical Airbus airliner features a "rounded nose" with windshield straight across the bottom, and the rear windshield window "notched"
The typical Airbus airliner features a "rounded nose" with windshield straight across the bottom, and the rear windshield window "notched"

The classic Boeing airliner has a "pointed nose" with a "V-shaped' windshield
The classic Boeing pointed nose configuration

But there are always exceptions! Like in the new Airbus A350 and Boeing 787.  Shown below is the fuselage nose and windshield configuration of the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787.

The cockpit windshield configuration of the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787

Comparison of typical Boeing wide-body tail structure (top) compared with a typical Airbus structure (bottom) which has more of a straight fuselage alignment across the bottom of the tail
Comparison of typical Boeing wide-body tail structure (top) compared with a typical Airbus structure (bottom) which has more of a straight alignment across the bottom of the tail

Boeing and Airbus Airliner Operations at Night

Boeing and Airbus Airliner Operations at Night

While spotting airliners during the day can sometimes be difficult, nighttime air operations make the process even harder.

One way to tell Boeing and Airbus airliners apart at night is by examing the pattern of the white light at the tip of the wing, known as the strobe.

Boeing strobe lights flash only once, while Airbus airliners flash twice in rapid succession.

Boeing Jet 7x7 Airliner Series

Boeing 707

See more Boeing 707 photographs and spotting tips

Continental Airlines Boeing 707 showing the high frequency HF antenna at the leading edge of its tail fin

Boeing 717 with its twin-engines mounted on the aft of the fuselage

See more Boeing 717 photographs and spotting tips

Boeing 717 of Delta Air Lines

The 727 is powered by three Pratt & Whitney JT8D engines below the T-tail, one on each side of the rear fuselage with a center engine that connects through an S-duct to an inlet at the base of the fin.

The front of the fuselage features the classic "Boeing pointed nose" and V-shaped windshields on each side of the cockpit.

These features can be seen in the Boeing 727-200 of Delta Air Lines shown below.

See more Boeing 727 photographs and spotting tips

The 727 is powered by three Pratt & Whitney JT8D engines below the T-tail, one on each side of the rear fuselage with a center engine that connects through an S-duct to an inlet at the base of the fin.

Boeing 737 has two engines (one under each wing), a main landing gear consisting of two sets of two wheels, and a triangular section at the front of the tail. The nose is "pointed"

See more Boeing 737 photographs and spotting tips

Boeing 737 spotting tips

The Boeing 747-400 with its bulbous front fuselage is an easy spot

See more Boeing 747 photographs and spotting tips

Boeing 747 spotting guide

In this photograph, the dominant dolphin-shaped nose of the narrow-body, single-aisle Boeing 757 can be seen on this American Airlines airliner. Note also the classic Boeing "V-shaped" windshield windows.

See more Boeing 757 photographs and spotting tips

the dominant dolphin-shaped nose of the 757 can be seen on this American Airlines airliner. Note also the classic Boeing "V-shaped" windshield windows.

Boeing 767-200, 767-300, and 767-400 wide-body, twin-jet.

See more Boeing 767 photographs and spotting tips

The twin-egine, wide-body Boeing 767-200 (top), 767-300 (middle), and 767-400 (bottom). Note the retractable tail skid on the -300 and -400 models.

The wide-body, twin engine Boeing 777-200 (top) and Boeing 777-300 (below)

See more Boeing 777 photographs and spotting tips

Spotting tips for the Boeing 777-200 and Boeing 777-300

The twin-egine, wide-body composite Boeing 787-8 (top) and Boeing 787-9 (below)

See more Boeing 787 photographs and spotting tips

Spotting guide for the Boeing 787-8 and Boeing 787-9


Airbus A3xx Jet Airliners

American Airlines Airbus A300-600

See more Airbus 300 photographs and spotting tips

American Airlines Airbus A300-600


Lufthansa Airbus A310-304
Note the two cabin doors (and one emergency exit door) along the side of the fuselage.

See more Airbus A310 photographs and spotting tips

Lufthansa Airbus A310-304

Air France Airbus A318

See Airbus 318 photographs and spotting tips

Airbus A318 of Air France


Lufthansa Airbus A319-100

See Airbus 319 photographs and spotting tips

Lufthansa Airbus A319-100


Air France Airbus A320-200

See Airbus 320 photographs and spotting tips

Air France Airbus A320-200


The A321 has two engines under the wings, two dual-wheel main landing gear, four doors along the fuselage, and the classic Airbus nose featuring the "notched" window.

See more Airbus 321 photographs and spotting tips

The A321 has two engines under the wings, two dual-wheel main landing gear, four doors along the fuselage, and the classic Airbus nose featuring the "notched" window


The Airbus A320 family of jetliners:
A318, A319, A320 and A321
Spotting guide for the Airbus A320 family of jetliners


Airbus A330 spotter's guide: notched windshield window, two engines (one under each wing), one passenger deck the length of the fuselage, main landing gear fall to the rear, and a straight fuselage under the tail structure.

See Airbus 330 photographs and spotting tips

Airbus A330 tips for spotters


Boeing 767 (top) and Airbus A330 (bottom) main landing gear design differences
Boeing 767 and Airbus A330 spotting guide


If you spot a four-engine airliner that is not a Boeing 747 or an Airbus A380, then it is probably an Airbus A340.

The Airbus A340 is a single-deck, wide-body airliner, and features two engines under each wing, and three sets of main landing gears, one in the middle of the underside of the fuselage.

See more Airbus A340 photographs and spotting tips

Airbus A340-200 of South African Airways


Airbus A350 spotting highlights, including a twin-engine configuration, a single passenger deck, a distinctive nose and winglets.

More about the Airbus A350

Airbus A350-900 spotting highlights, including a twin-engine configuration, a single passenger deck, a distinctive nose and winglets.


The Airbus A380 is an easy spot, with its four engines and two passenger decks extending the length of the fuselage.

See more Airbus 380 photographs and spotting tips

The Airbus A380 is also an easy spot, four engines, with its two passenger decks extending the length of the fuselage

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