April 13, 2023

Airlines and customers alike appreciated the Boeing 757-200 and the paths it opened up for travel across large spans and vast oceans, even where only smaller airports were available. Let’s take a closer look at N905AW, a Boeing 757-200 with a career span of nearly 30 years.

What is the Boeing 757-200?


US Airways 757

N905AW flickr photo by redlegsfan21 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license 

The Boeing 757-200 is a medium-to-long range, narrow-body, twin-engine jet airliner that was first introduced in 1983. It was primarily developed as a replacement for the B727. Although it was larger, with a higher passenger or cargo capacity than its predecessor, it was 80% more fuel efficient. It also featured a glass cockpit, advanced avionics, weather radar system, and other safety features, including a ground proximity warning system. The 757-200 is able to accommodate around 200 to 250 passengers, depending on the specific airline and the configuration they chose to accommodate their routes. Many 757-200s and -300s are still in use today, some with their life extended by retrofitting with new engines and winglets. Between 1982 and 2004, Boeing produced 1,049 757s; 913 of these were 757-200 variants. 

Airlines loved the 757-200, citing its fuel efficiency, extended range, and reliability. Its range of nearly 4,500 miles made coast-to-coast US flights and jaunts across the Atlantic possible. Customers appreciated the access from smaller airports to destinations all over the country. With the introduction of ETOPS, transatlantic destinations were now within easier reach. The Boeing 757 is also particularly well suited for flying in high altitudes and hot, arid climates - especially important when a fleet’s main base is at Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX / KPHX), as was US Airways.

What is a glass cockpit?

A glass cockpit is a modern cockpit design that replaces traditional mechanical gauges and instruments with electronic displays and sensors, providing real-time information that flight crew can use to make immediate decisions. This technology also eliminated the need for a flight engineer in aircraft such as the 757, saving airlines a great deal of money. 

In the case of a 757, the glass cockpit replaces the traditional "steam gauge" instruments with large, high-resolution LCD displays that show information such as airspeed, altitude, pitch and roll, heading, engine parameters, and other critical flight data. The displays are typically arranged in a "Primary Flight Display" (PFD) and a "Navigation Display" (ND) format, which give pilots an intuitive and integrated view of the aircraft's status and flight path.

The benefits of glass cockpit technology include increased situational awareness, improved reliability, and reduced pilot workload. The advanced displays can also incorporate features such as synthetic vision, weather radar, and terrain awareness. 

Check out this video from Boeing, explaining the glass cockpit in the 757 and 767.


Boeing 757-200: At A Glance

Boeing 757 PlaneTags

Boeing 757-200 Characteristics

  • Manufacturer: Boeing
  • Tail #: N905aw
  • Crew: 6 (2 Pilots, 4 Flight Attendants)
  • Seats: 190 Passengers (14 Business, 176 Economy)
  • Wing Span: 124 Ft 10 In
  • Length: 155 Ft 3 In
  • Height:  44 Ft 6 In

Boeing 757-200 Performance

  • Range: 3,900 Nm
  • Cruise Speed: 458 Kts
  • Ceiling: 42,000 Ft
  • Empty Weight: 129,130 Lbs
  • Max Takeoff Weight: 255,000 Lbs
  • Rate Of Climb: 3,200 Ft / Minute
  • Engine: 2x Rolls Royce Rb211-535e4 Turbofans



N905AW was constructed in 1986 and took its first flight on May 2, 1986. It was delivered as N605RC to Republic Airlines, as one of six 757s in its fleet. Republic Airlines was formed when North Central Airlines and Southern Airways merged in July 1979. Republic, in turn, merged with Northwest Airlines later in 1986, taking its small fleet with them. Northwest later merged with Delta Air Lines in 2008. 

America West Airlines 

America West Airlines 757


N905AW transferred to America West Airlines in November 1987. In October 1995, it was painted in a special livery featuring elements of the Ohio state flag and named “The City of Columbus” to celebrate the mini hub that had been established there. 

America West Airlines was a low-cost carrier that operated from 1983 to 2005. Based in Tempe, Arizona, its main hub was located at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The airline was founded with the goal of providing low-cost air travel to underserved cities in the western U.S.. America West began operations on August 1, 1983, with a fleet of three Boeing 737-200 aircraft flying to five cities. The airline quickly expanded, adding new routes and aircraft, and by the end of the decade, it had become the largest carrier at its home airport in Phoenix. After weathering several challenges in the 1990s, and expanding its routes outside of the U.S. to Mexico and Canada, it merged with US Airways in 2005, creating one of the largest U.S. airlines at the time.


Ohio state flag 757

  340da - America West Airlines Boeing 757-2S7; N905AW@LAS;01.03.2005 flickr photo by Aero Icarus shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license 

What is the “Cactus” call sign?

The call sign "Cactus" has been associated with America West Airlines and later with US Airways since the early 1990s. The Cactus call sign originated with America West Airlines, which merged with US Airways in September 2005. After they were combined under a single operating certificate (SOC) in October 2008, they used "Cactus" instead of the "US Air" call sign as their common call sign. The name was originally chosen as a nod to the airline's origins in the arid southwestern United States, where cacti are a common sight. After US Airways merged with America West in 2005, the call sign "Cactus" was retained as a way to honor the airline's history and heritage. 


US Airways


US Airways PlaneTags

N905AW - Boeing 757-2S7 - US Airways flickr photo by Colin Brown Photography shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license 


N905AW was branded with a new livery once again, when America West Airlines and US Airways merged in 2005. US Airways was a major U.S. carrier that operated from 1939 to 2015.  Its lineage began with All American Aviation, an airmail service in Pennsylvania. Over the years, it expanded its operations to include passenger service as well as mail delivery, eventually changing its name to Allegheny Airlines. Its name was changed again during the 1980s, becoming USAir and expanding its routes to destinations across the U.S. and in Europe. In the 1990s, the airline underwent a series of mergers and acquisitions, acquiring Piedmont Airlines, Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA), and eventually merging with America West Airlines in 2005.

Following the merger with America West, the airline operated under the US Airways name, with a fleet of over 400 aircraft serving more than 200 destinations around the world. The airline was known for its affordable fares, frequent flyer program, and extensive route network. In 2013, US Airways announced plans to merge with American Airlines, a move that would create the world's largest airline. The merger was completed in October 2015, and the new airline adopted the American Airlines name and branding. N905AW retired in November 2015, after nearly 30 years of service. 

Take a look at this video of the final flight of US Airways after the merger with American Airlines. 


MotoArt gets a 757

  MotoArt owner Dave Hall

In February 2023, the MotoArt team was just getting ready to release the USAir 737 PlaneTags when MotoArt owner Dave Hall found out that a derelict US Airways 757 was about to be broken up in Southern California. "We knew we had to tag this 757," recalls Hall. "It flew for nearly 30 years and wore some incredible liveries from a long line of airline ancestry. This plane has been on a journey of a lifetime."



The team got to work, cutting panels to bring back to MotoArt headquarters in Torrance, California. Here are some photos from Hall and the team.


retired 757 aircraft

757 in the boneyard

aircraft skin keychain

inside 757-200

MotoArt boneyard

airplane skin luggage tags


US Airways 757 PlaneTags

757 PlaneTags


The newest commercial airliner PlaneTags will land on Thursday, April 13th at 12pm PDT. The US Airways Boeing 757 PlaneTags are numbered in a series of 7,500 and will be initially available in the following color variants:

  • Blue
  • Blue/White
  • Red Stripe
  • Red Stripe/White
  • White
  • Gray Stripe/White
  • Gray Stripe
  • Tail Blue 2
  • Tail Blue 1/Tail Blue 2
  • Plane # Gray Stripe/Blue
  • Plane # Gray Stripe/Blue/White


B757 PlaneTags

  US Airways PlaneTags

Boeing 757 PlaneTags

  US Airways Livery PlaneTags


With this release, the team has broken down the colors by the location of where they were cut. Don't miss out on colors from the tail or logo or other locations - sign up to be notified for new releases like this one.


Boeing 757 PlaneTags

Our US Airways 757 joins an esteemed group of 757s. MotoArt has had the opportunity to tag these retired 757s.