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Which is Better...... 737 or Airbus A320


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Lengthy article, but what is your take ? Story link to video and graphics. The Boeing 737 vs Airbus A320 - Which Plane Is Best? (simpleflying.com)

The Boeing 737 vs Airbus A320 - Which Plane Is Best?

UPDATED 6 DAYS AGO
 

The two industry narrowbody workhorses go head to head. But which one is your favorite?

 

The world's two leading narrowbody jets are variations of the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320. They might not be as glamorous as their larger and more imposing siblings, such as the 747 or the A380. However, they are trusted workhorses of most fleets all over the world. For many of us, when we travel by air, we are highly likely to find ourselves on an A320 or 737 for most of our flights. Whatever your relationship is with them, these are the bread and butter planes of the industry. But how do they compare with each other

How do you separate the two?

At first glance, the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737 are very similar to one another. The A320 has a slightly more rounded nose. If you like to anthropomorphize your aircraft, we think it might perhaps lend it a slightly more friendly appearance. The Boeing’s sharp, pointed nose and somewhat severe expression might make it appear a little more on the stern side, but again that’s just our personal opinion.

Spotting the difference between the two aircraft is not the easiest of tasks. There are many variants of each and subtle differences between each of the models. Not to mention the numerous add-ons and smaller details that can make it difficult to discern one from the other.

Aside from the nose, the most noticeable difference, at least from the outside, can be found in the flight deck windows. The Boeing’s windows slant downwards as they wrap around the nose, while the Airbus has straighter, more rounded windows.

The engines offer another piece of the spotting puzzle. The later models of the Boeing 737 have had to flatten the engine covers at the bottom to provide more space for the engines to clear the ground. Meanwhile, the Airbus narrowbody sits higher, so it gets away with perfectly circular engine cowlings.
The A320 engine cowlings are perfectly round. Photo: Getty Images

At the tips of the wings, Boeing and Airbus employ different winglet types to aid efficient flying. Boeing uses angular winglet technology, sometimes with two winglets, one pointing up and one down. These are referred to as a ‘split scimitar’, referencing the single-edged sword with a curved blade that is associated with Middle Eastern, South Asian, or North African cultures.

 

Airbus on the other hand uses what is called ‘sharklets’. They get their name from their appearance, which is similar to a shark's fin. However, some airlines use other types of technology, such as wingtip fences or endplates. It is not always straightforward to spot the difference in the plane by the wing furniture alone.

Airbus' wingtips resemble shark fins. Photo: Getty Images

Those are the main characteristics of the external surfaces of the two planes. But how about what is on the inside?

How do their interiors differ?

At face value, one is hard-pressed to find any major differences between the two aircraft. They are both standard short- to medium-haul planes. Their cabins are arranged in a 3-3 configuration and sometimes feature a business class product suited to their range capacities upfront. There are overhead compartments for carry-on luggage, a single-aisle separating the seats, and usually, lavatories at both the front and rear end of the cabin.

However, there are some discernable differences when it comes to passenger comfort and experience. The Airbus A320 has a wider cabin than the Boeing 737. Seven inches may not seem like that big a deal. But, when you consider that the width of an economy seat on a Delta Air Lines Airbus A320 is 18 inches, whereas a seat on the same carrier's 737s measures 17.3 inches across, then you see how it can make a pretty big difference for comfort. A slightly wider seat is always welcome, even on short-haul services.

The main cabin seats on Delta's Boeing 737s are 0.7 inches more narrow than the seats on the airline's A320s. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Because the cabin is wider, the curvature is also less aggressive on the Airbus. It’s only a slight difference, but when you’re trying to rest your head at your window seat, this translates into more room for maneuvering onboard the A320.

You might also have noticed a difference between the windows. The 737 has very slightly larger windows than the A320, which one would immediately take to be a positive. However, they sit lower in the fuselage. This means that taller people may find themselves bending over to be able to see properly out the window. Meanwhile, the windows on the A320 are placed slightly higher, which puts them at eye level for the majority of travelers.

In terms of other comforts, it comes down to the products of individual airlines, depending on which specific seats they go for, and what other amenities they choose to put on board their aircraft. For example, Spirit Airlines, an all-Airbus operator, offers the ‘Big Front Seat’ in the front part of the cabin to premium passengers. These have 36 inches of pitch and are 18.5 inches wide, in a 2-2 configuration. United Airlines also offers first class 2-2 seats on its 737s, with 37 inches of pitch and 20.7 width, along with economy plus seats in 3-3 and 34 inches of pitch, 17.3 inches of width.

The lesser curvature of the A320 allows for a bit more room to rest by the window seat. Photo: JetBlue
 

The POV from the flight deck

Evidence suggests pilots seem to have mixed feelings about the two aircraft. The Boeing 737 has been around for a very long time. It is more familiar to old school pilots, in that it still uses a floor-mounted yoke connected to control cables. This directly manipulates hydraulically boosted control surfaces. It’s a much more tactile experience and much more like traditional ‘flying’.

The A320, on the other hand, uses ‘fly-by-wire’ technology, relying on sensors and electronics to control the aircraft. Electrical signals sense the pilot’s input and deliver the message to the aircraft controls. For a traditional pilot, this can feel a little unfamiliar, although the technology is well-proven with an excellent safety record.

The A320 seems to come out ahead in terms of pilot comfort. Photo: Airbus

Peter Bedell, an airline pilot who is type-rated on both the A320 and the 737, outlined his thoughts on the two models in an article published by AOPA in 2016. Overall, he seemed to be positively inclined towards the Airbus when it comes to pilot comfort, while noting that the Boeing excels in some areas, such as when landing in heavy crosswinds. Bedell said the 737,

"...has rudder and aileron power to spare and is very conventional and predictable."

However, the 737 is said to be very predictable to land in windy conditions. Photo: Maarten Visser via Wikimedia Commons
 

Comparing the numbers

Both Boeing and Airbus have brought newer, more efficient generations of narrowbodies to the market. Indeed, the neo and the MAX are rolling out of the final assembly lines in ever greater numbers. However, the previous generation is still far more prolific in airline fleets. If you are flying on a narrowbody, for now, you are still most likely to encounter a 737-800 (NG) or an Airbus A320-200.

Let’s compare the specs of these two popular planes to see how they stack up.

  Boeing 737-800 Airbus A320-200
Length 39.5 m / 129 ft 7 in 37.57 m / 123 ft 3 in
Wingspan 35.8 m / 117 ft 5 in 34.1 m / 111 ft 10 in
MTOW 79,000 kg / 174,000 lb 77,000 kg / 170,000 lb
Range 5,425 km / 2,930 nm 5,700 km / 3,078 nm
Cruise speed M 0.785 M 0.78
Capacity (typical) 162 pax 150 pax
Max capacity 198 pax 190 pax
 

What about sales?

Following the tragic accidents of two Boeing 737 MAXs and the type's subsequent grounding in 2019, the A320 passed the 737 in number of orders for the first time. However, when looking at the aerospace companies' official figures, the tide seems to have turned again. By the end of April this year, Airbus had received 16,118 orders for the A320 family. Meanwhile, when counting the 737 Classic, NG, and MAX (excluding the Combi version), Boeing's official order figures currently stand at 16,436.

Numbers are one thing, but which do you prefer? Photo: Jonathan Hendry | Simple Flying
 

So which plane comes out on top?

While it is always interesting to look at the numbers side by side, it does not really tell us much about which aircraft is better, and which plane comes out on top is a very tricky question to answer. Because, in the end, the matter is somewhat subjective, and opinions can differ widely when it comes to picking a favorite between the two. As such, we want to turn it over to you.

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The answer will depend on who's giving it. Pilots who've flown both will be 50/50 in their opinion. Maintenance folks tend to like the Airbus more. Bean counters will take the 737 all day long. 

Personally, I prefer the Airbus because I appreciated the benefits of the technological advances it provides, and because they gave me a table!

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33 minutes ago, J.O. said:

The answer will depend on who's giving it. Pilots who've flown both will be 50/50 in their opinion. Maintenance folks tend to like the Airbus more. Bean counters will take the 737 all day long. 

Personally, I prefer the Airbus because I appreciated the benefits of the technological advances it provides, and because they gave me a table!

I'd suggest that the bean counters prefer the 37 is because Boeing will take whatever discount they have  to so they can make the sale. After that I believe the operating economics of the Airbus are better but I might be corrected on that.

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2 hours ago, GDR said:

I'd suggest that the bean counters prefer the 37 is because Boeing will take whatever discount they have  to so they can make the sale.

Having been on both sides of the deal - better financing always wins.  It is a business after all and operating economics are for the next guy to worry about.

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7 hours ago, Specs said:

Having been on both sides of the deal - better financing always wins.  It is a business after all and operating economics are for the next guy to worry about.

I'd like to think that quality counts too. I wonder if the AC bean counters had buyers remorse after the 37  was grounded.

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looking under the hood I would take a 320 over a 737 any day.

The systems integration on the 737 is a mess of old and really old technology and now they are attempting to ADD new technology.   Sure it's a workhorse but it no longer tried and true.  Its a mess.

the 320 is designed with the systems integration at the forefront and it works.  It IS now the tried and true.

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One advantage the bus has over the 37 must be containerized baggage….maybe it doesn’t matter to bean counters, the job still gets done but it must have an effect on turn times.

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20 hours ago, GDR said:

I'd suggest that the bean counters prefer the 37 is because Boeing will take whatever discount they have  to so they can make the sale. After that I believe the operating economics of the Airbus are better but I might be corrected on that.

From my conversations with those in the know, it was more than just acquisition cost. The 737s also had a lower per hour operating cost.

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Coke vs Pepsi, JPEG vs RAW, creation vs evolution...these discussions never resolve. How about...has anyone got an example of what type of flying/mission where one type would do better than the other. For example, 737-200 gravel ops.

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Hope this helps...

https://airinsight.com/fuel-burn-numbers-max-vs-neo/

Fuel burn numbers – MAX vs NEO

by Addison Schonland | May 28, 2019 | Fuel Burn | 1 comment

2019-05-28_12-01-46.jpg?resize=267%2C187

The US DoT data for 2018 has been published.  Analyzing the numbers we generated preliminary data comparing fuel cost numbers for the MAX and NEO.  (There may still be some gaps to fill) We stuck to fuel costs to minimize the chance of airline creative accounting.   This is not a dig at the airline industry.

The DoT advised us as follows when we found some numbers to be odd: “While DOT has followed GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) since 1989, there are a number of instances where we don’t.  Our Chart of Accounts is pretty rigid.  It does not change, to do so would require a Rulemaking.  Air carriers will follow FASB pronouncements when reporting to the SEC, but we may instruct them differently.   Case in point, FASB ASU No. 2014-09 told air carriers to record all ancillary fees as passenger revenue.  We instructed the carriers not to.  GAAP tells business entities (air carriers) to show “Other Comprehensive Income” below “Net Income” and specifically states “not to post to Retained Earnings on the balance sheet, but to create a new line item for it”.   We do not have new line items and instruct the carriers to record it in Retain Earnings.”

Back to the MAX vs NEO numbers.  The chart shows the rise in fuel costs as oil prices have risen.   We took the fuel costs and air hours from Form 41 table 5.2 and took ASMs divided by mile flown to get average seats from the T-2.  The chart is a combination of data points.

2019-05-28_12-02-34-580x307.jpg?resize=5

The interesting item here is clearly the MAX8 curve.  In 2017 the A320neo had a lower number and by 2018 they are about the same.  Next, we go into the details.

2019-05-28_12-01-46.jpg?resize=267%2C187

 

  • In 2018 the MAX8 we see fuel costs per hour per seat over 20% better than the 737-800.
  • The MAX9 shows an improvement in fuel costs of nearly 12% over the 737-900ER.
  • An item worth noting – the 737-900ER numbers look very competitive with those of the A321neo.  This is not because the 737-900ER has equally compelling economics –   it doesn’t.  The Boeing is used more extensively on longer hauls and its fuel numbers benefit from this.  The largest A321neo fleet in the US belongs to Alaska (flying them transcon) and it is too small to make a dent, for now. As American and Delta start getting their deliveries, we expect to see the A321neo fuel costs drop considerably compared to the 737-900ER.
  • No data was published allowing for a comparison between the A321neo and MAX9.
  • The A321ceo to A321neo fuel costs decline nearly 12% – which we think underscores the relative “misuse” of the A321neos at present.  These aircraft need to have their legs stretched.
  • Next note that the A320ceo to A320neo shows a fuel cost drop of 25.5% in 2018.  This is quite a bit better than the MAX improvement over the NG.
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5 hours ago, JL said:

Coke vs Pepsi, JPEG vs RAW, creation vs evolution...these discussions never resolve. How about...has anyone got an example of what type of flying/mission where one type would do better than the other. For example, 737-200 gravel ops.

On the 320 we didn't have to eat off the log book on our laps and we we didn't have to worry about breaking our knee cap when we trimmed the aircraft. That should be enough right there, although I'll have to admit the bean counters really didn't care.

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There is no FINAL answer. We all have opinions based on what we have flown. Pilots don't really care about the bean counters, they will fly whatever they are told to do so.

Tons of stats out there both pro and con on all aircraft types and some are based on NOT flying either type

Example..

Air France over the Atlantic......would a CC have changed the outcome ??

Trying to get a definitive answer to this question is like asking women and men who is the best kisser.....🥰

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2 hours ago, Kip Powick said:

 

Air France over the Atlantic......would a CC have changed the outcome ??

 

I don't think it is a case of a cc vs the side stick. I think the issue is more that the side stick isn't connected. In general I prefer Airbus, largely because I found the flight management systems far superior, but I do think it would have been better if the side sticks moved together.

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Simply put - compare the latest incarnations of each equipment line (A321NEO vs MAX9/10).

I don’t think there is much to compare other than the discounts that Boeing is will to offer to sell a 55 year old platform.

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On 5/26/2022 at 9:34 AM, JL said:

Coke vs Pepsi, JPEG vs RAW, creation vs evolution...these discussions never resolve. How about...has anyone got an example of what type of flying/mission where one type would do better than the other. For example, 737-200 gravel ops.

 

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You pilot types only see the shiny bits.  Its the stuff under the floor that makes it work that counts adn in that arena the Bus far out weights the 37.  The 37 is a mish mash shoveled into a box and shaken vigorously.

the 37 is past it prime unless a full systems redesign is done on it.  It will never catch up.

That being said.  the bean counters do not care

 

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2 hours ago, boestar said:

You pilot types only see the shiny bits.  Its the stuff under the floor that makes it work that counts adn in that arena the Bus far out weights the 37.  The 37 is a mish mash shoveled into a box and shaken vigorously.

the 37 is past it prime unless a full systems redesign is done on it.  It will never catch up.

That being said.  the bean counters do not care

 

I guess the old "if it ain't broke" rules. In the future however.....

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4 hours ago, boestar said:

You pilot types only see the shiny bits.  Its the stuff under the floor that makes it work that counts adn in that arena the Bus far out weights the 37.  The 37 is a mish mash shoveled into a box and shaken vigorously.

the 37 is past it prime unless a full systems redesign is done on it.  It will never catch up.

That being said.  the bean counters do not care

 

Lol, I can assure you that anyone with a good amount of experience on the various iterations of the 37 is well aware of the mish mash under the floor boards.

edit to add. I have only a couple thousand hrs on airbus and it was before I ever touched a boeing, Both airplanes you have to 'manage' but you still 'drive' a 37.

Sadly more often these days I have to tell new people "don't let the airplane fly you, you are not along for the ride."

I will agree the 737 should have been finished at the NG

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Having logged thousands of hours on the 737 and zero on the A320, I'm not equipped to compare what they are like to fly.

However... as a pax... honestly I have to admit I find the A320 a little more comfortable. A tad roomier. In the 3x3 economy section, the A320 seats all seem just a touch wider. Could be my imagination.

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On 5/31/2022 at 5:37 AM, boestar said:

You pilot types only see the shiny bits.  Its the stuff under the floor that makes it work that counts adn in that arena the Bus far out weights the 37.  The 37 is a mish mash shoveled into a box and shaken vigorously.

the 37 is past it prime unless a full systems redesign is done on it.  It will never catch up.

That being said.  the bean counters do not care

 

As someone who has spent their entire career on the 737 from the -100 to the Max 8. I couldn't disagree more. Most people commenting on how bad it is, especially from a maintenance POV clearly have little or no touch time. It's a very maintenance friendly aircraft that rarely ruined my night. The NG in particular was a piece of cake.

With that being said I probably would have to agree with thinair on the Max...

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/6/2022 at 11:53 AM, Maverick said:

As someone who has spent their entire career on the 737 from the -100 to the Max 8. I couldn't disagree more. Most people commenting on how bad it is, especially from a maintenance POV clearly have little or no touch time. It's a very maintenance friendly aircraft that rarely ruined my night. The NG in particular was a piece of cake.

With that being said I probably would have to agree with thinair on the Max...

Simple and maintenance friendly yes.  Archaic and non integrated technology full of workarounds also yes.  It could be twice the plane it is with a clean slate system redesign

 

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