Airbus A320 Vs Boeing 737: Which Is Bigger & Better?

Ken Hyde

By Ken Hyde

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Airbus is one of Boeing’s competitors, and its A320 model is the direct rival of Boeing 737. These two are the two most popular narrow-body aircraft in the world. Although they may lack the glitz and glamor of their bigger and more intimidating brothers, like the A350 XWB or the 787, they are nonetheless the dependable workhorses of the majority of fleets worldwide.

When it comes to flying, most of us are probably going to spend the majority of our travel time on a 737 or A320. These are the industry’s mainstays, regardless of your connection with them. But how can you tell them apart? Let’s find out!

About Airbus A320 And Boeing 737

Airbus A320

Airbus A-320

When the Airbus A320 was first delivered in 1988, aviation technology advanced significantly. The A320 of the Airbus aircraft family, created by the European aerospace partnership Airbus, was the first to use a completely digital fly-by-wire control system. This cutting-edge technology gave pilots more efficiency and better handling by replacing the antiquated manual flight controls with electronic ones.

Passengers may enjoy bigger seats, greater personal space, and roomy overhead lockers for storing their belongings in the largest single-aisle cabin. How many seats are on Airbus A320? With a maximum capacity of 180 passengers, it can accommodate a wide range of seating arrangements within its adaptable cabin, which typically seats 140 to 170 people. Additionally, the A320’s interior is incredibly quiet and offers a variety of lighting settings, making it simple to unwind and enjoy the journey. 

Boeing 737

Boeing 737-800

Since its official debut in 1968, the Boeing 737 has grown to be the best-selling commercial airplane in the world. The model has gone through several generations and modifications as it continuously adapts to the needs of the aviation industry. The 737 is a widely used aircraft by major airlines throughout the globe because of its reputation for dependability, adaptability, and pilot familiarity.

Depending on the type and configuration, the Boeing 737 can carry anywhere from 149 to 220 passengers in its seats, depending on the model. Its versatility enables American Airlines to employ it for various itineraries, from short local flights to more extensive regional operations.

A320 Vs 737: Full Comparison

Despite a few similarities, there are a number of factors to consider while deciding between the 737s and A320s, most notably size, capacity, design philosophy, etc.

First off, passengers feel more roomy in the A320’s interior due to its tendency to be slightly broader. The form of the cockpit windows is another important visual cue; the 737’s windows have an eyebrow-like shape, but the A320’s have a more rounded style. 

Similarity

Finding any significant distinctions between the two popular planes at face value is difficult for an untrained eye. These are both typical short- to medium-range aircraft.

  • Body design: Both aircraft models come with a narrow-body design, suitable for short to medium-haul flight.
  • Cabin setup: They are in a 3-3 arrangement, and occasionally, they have an upfront business-class product that fits their range capacity.
  • Global dominance: These aircraft are operated by airlines on every continent, putting them among the most common airliners out there.
  • Technological advancements: The A320 and 737 have upgraded systems, including digital cockpit displays and cutting-edge avionics, to satisfy the changing demands of the aviation sector.
  • Versatility and adaptability: They are suitable for several airline routes, including lengthy regional trips and short domestic excursions.

Difference

Take a look at the summary before diving into the full comparison below!

FeatureAirbus A320Boeing 737
ExteriorMore roundedEyebrow-like
Cabin & capacityWider cabin, 180 seats (max) Smaller cabin, 149 to 220 seats
SeatingA bit wider (18 inches)Smaller (17 to 17.3 inches)
Cargo27.1-71.5 m³22.7-55.1 m³
Range4,000-6,900 km4,000-6,900 km
Speed0.78 Mach0.74 to 0.79 Mach
Fuel economySlightly betterBurn more fuel

Exterior Design

The most obvious distinction, from the outside at least, is the flight deck windows, except from the nose. Whereas the Airbus has more rounded, straighter windows, the Boeing commercial airplane’s windows slope downward as they wrap around the nose.

Interior Design

The breadth of the cabin is one obvious distinction in terms of passenger experience and comfort. Compared to the Boeing 737, the Airbus A320 has a wider cabin, which is about 7 inches wider. An economy seat on an Airbus A320 operated by Delta Air Lines has 18 inches of passenger personal space, while a seat on a 737 measures 17 to 17.3 inches.

Engine

While the Airbus A320’s engines retain their circular form, the Boeing 737’s are distinguished by being “flat” at the bottom. To give the engines greater room to clear the ground, the bottom engine covers of the 737 models that came after had to be flattened. On the contrary, the Airbus narrow-body manages to get away with precisely round engine cowlings because it sits higher.

The LEAP-1B engines of the 737 are co-manufactured by CFM International and GE Aviation. They have a remarkable thrust rate, which enables them to cruise at 0.74 to 0.79 Mach at max. The Airbus A320, on the other hand, can cruise at a comparable speed of 0.78 Mach.

Performance

The Advanced Technology winglets of the 737 improve the aircraft’s aerodynamic efficiency. It is said that Boeing 737 MAX models have a 14% increase in fuel economy over their predecessors.

In this category, the Airbus A320 makes up for the cruise speed with better fuel efficiency, which is a result of its cutting-edge aerodynamics and usage of lighter composite materials and components. The brand has claimed that an A320 burns 35% less fuel per seat than a Boeing 737-300.

Maintenance

There is a substantial difference in the maintenance costs between the A320 and the 737. Boeing asserts that the A320 spends more time in the hangar than the 737. 

The 737 requires less frequent maintenance and is out of service for fewer days than its Airbus equivalent, whether it be turnaround inspections or more thorough maintenance checks. Not only that, but a maintenance check needs fewer person-hours due to the “old-school” design carried over from the early generation of 737s.

Number Of Sales

For the first time, the A320 surpassed the 737 in terms of orders after the terrible incidents involving two 737 MAX aircraft and the consequent grounding of the model in 2019. Nevertheless, official statistics from the haul airliner firms indicate that the situation appears to have changed once more.

Nearly 11,550 Boeing 737s have been delivered, making them the most-produced passenger aircraft in history, surpassing the DC-3. As of the end of 2023, 4,091 of the kind were still in the carrier’s backlog. Meanwhile, Airbus had delivered for a total of 11,370 A320s in the same period and had received orders for 17,907 more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is The A320 Safer Than The 737?

It’s hard to determine. While the 737 has a long-term operational history, Airbus has been involved in fewer accidents up to now. 

Is The A320 Quieter Than The 737?

Yes. The internal sound level of the A320 is 68.5 dB, but that of the 737 is 69.6 dB. Notice that interior noise may be caused by many variables, such as the quantity and arrangement of installed seats and the number of people in the vehicle.

Can An A320 Pilot Fly The 737? 

Yes. Pilots can switch between different types of aircraft with the appropriate training and expertise. To be effective in flying both aircraft, it is essential to comprehend how one differs from the other and how it operates.

The Bottom Line

It is always intriguing to compare the 737 and A320. Still, it does not necessarily reveal which aircraft is superior, and determining which wins out is a difficult decision. Considering that choosing a preference between the two is ultimately a subjective decision, opinions on the issue might diverge greatly.

See more: Boeing 777 versus 787


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Ken W Hyde

Ken W Hyde

Ken W Hyde is the founder of The Wright Experience™. He is passionate about antique airplanes and has restored many of the Wright brothers' planes, including the 1918 Curtiss Jenny and the 1903 Wright Flyer. He is also a pilot and mechanic who has worked for Capital Airlines, Bendix Corporation, and American Airlines.

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