Flight tests are to start this week of a Boeing 757-300 powered by the Pratt & Whitney PW2043, which the manufacturer hopes will boost the sales fortunes of the stretched narrowbody.

The aircraft is already in service with the Rolls-Royce RB211-535 engine, and Boeing is poised to certificate the PW2043-powered version for launch carrier Northwest Airlines, the only customer to select the P&W-equipped version. By certificating this variant with an interchangeable engine and nacelle combination for the -200 version, Boeing hopes large domestic PW2000-powered 757 operators such as Delta Air Lines and United Airlines will order the longer model.

Boeing's 757 vice-president and general manager Patrick Shanahan says that as around 65% of the 757 fleet is operated in North America, the collapse in traffic after 11 September "was a blow to us in 2001". He is optimistic that -300 sales will pick up again by the year-end.

The three-month 100h-plus PW2043/757-300 flight test programme will be conducted with the first of 16 aircraft ordered by Northwest. Initial flights will be conducted with engines producing 40,000lb-thrust (178kN), with a gradual step-up approach to 43,000lb. European and US certification is due by June with deliveries to Northwest beginning the following month.

Source: Flight International