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Boeing 737 vs. Airbus A320: A Comparison

Boeing 737 vs. Airbus A320: A Comparison

Being 737 vs. Airbus A320

Everybody loves a big competition and they don’t get much bigger than the game played between Boeing and Airbus. While you’re kicking back with your in-flight magazine, an army of designers, engineers, and executives are already plotting on how to ensure you and major airlines don’t join forces with the enemy.

Given the amount of finances Boeing and Airbus keep putting in the game, it only seems fair we should take a look at two of their most famous and comparative similar aircraft to see how they correlate.

Seating Capacity

Boeing has a slight edge on the seating capacity of the 737 with a capacity of 162 compared to the A320’s 150.

That being said, both aircraft significantly outperform others in the narrow-body passenger plane market. Boeing retains this edge in an all-economy class configuration, although it suffers a small comparative loss when compared to the standard configuration.

In the all-economy configuration, this translates to 180 passengers for the A320 compared to 189 for the 737.

Fuel Economy

It goes without saying that this counts for a lot if you’re an airline operator, and this is where the A320 wins. On a straight per Nautical Mile cost, you’re looking at £7.45 for the A320 compared to £8.51 for the 737.

Of course, it’s the per seat cost that counts the most, although the A320 retains an edge here too. The per seat per nautical mile cost for the A320 translates to £4.99 compared to £5.25 for the 737.

The Engine

Now’s the time to put your preference for engine performance to rest. While the 737 comes with a CFM56 engine, the A320 offers this alongside an IAE V2500 engine. However, given that the majority of A320s are fitted with the CFM56, it’s safe to say that both aircrafts reach a draw with this.

Maximum Range

Neither the A320 nor the 737 were designed to travel long distances, with both aircraft ideal for short haul flights. However, in a race to see who could travel the furthest, the A320 offers an extra 185 nautical miles than the 737. This equates to 3,300 for Airbus compared to 3115 for Boeing.

Maximum Cruise Altitude

If you’re travelling on an Airbus A320, and the pilot mentions you’re cruising at 41,000ft, you’re going to wish you went with a 737. Their capacity to fly comfortably at this altitude gives them the edge over most aircraft of their size. Meanwhile, the A320 clocks in at a maximum cruising speed of 39,000 feet.

This is slightly less to the maximum altitude for most aircraft of their size, though the difference is marginal.

Cruise Speed

When it comes to cruise speed from normal to long-range, both aircraft win hands down over the vast majority of similar aircraft. However, the A320 truly comes into its own with a normal to long-range cruise speed of 514 knots, making them 15% faster than similar models. Although slower, the 737 is no slouch either, clocking in at 472 knots across normal to long-range, or 5.4% faster than similar models. If pushed for time, both aircraft can safely fly at a maximum of Mach 0.82.

Take-off and Landing Fields Lengths

If you’re wondering why you see considerably less Boeing 737s in the world’s airports, this is the reason. Although they only require a landing field length of 4,500 ft., they require a take-off field length of 7,874 ft. This is one of the longest take-off field lengths for any fixed-wing aircraft, limiting their use to larger airports.

The A320 is comparatively nimble with a take-off field length of 5,600 ft., although it does require a landing field of 5,052 ft. While this is slightly longer than the norm, most airports can easily accommodate it.

Cost of Purchase

Just in case you’ve decided to start an airline or squander your inheritance, you’ll be pleased to know that the Airbus A320 is a touch cheaper than the Boeing 737 by a cool £5.2 m. This makes the Airbus the logical choice if you only have £45m to spare. However, if your budget can stretch to £50m it’s really just a matter of preference.

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by Paul Smith

General News