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Home > Airplanes > How would you compare the Airbus A320 against the Boeing 737?
How would you compare the Airbus A320 against the Boeing 737?
Aviation - Airplanes
Friday, 15 September 2006 03:05
Hello Captain Lim,

Welcome back!

How would you compare the Airbus A320 against the Boeing 737 - from the economics and pilot*s point of view, say, the A320 against B737-800NG?

From the passenger*s point of view, I like more the A320 - by a rather wide margin...

Thank you!

Best regards,

Cosmin Ciortan

Hi Cosmin,

Many of my readers ask, why am I now flying a smaller Airbus A320 instead of the bigger Boeing 777? (Perhaps, I ought to have made myself clearer earlier
)

Well, it was basically due to the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) regulations, which state that a pilot shall not fly International routes when he reaches 60 years old. Since I wish to continue flying, my only choice is to join an airline that operates the Airbus A320 domestically :-).

Now, to your query (and those of Carlos Roberto, Farook, et al) as to the differences between the A320 and the B737 ? there are bound to be some good and not-so-good features on either plane (depending on whom you are talking to). Here are some of my observations:

Yes, I like the Airbus A320 (the one I am flying is a 180-seater) when it comes to the cockpit; it is incredibly spacious for a plane of its category. It has a side stick and a table for flying manuals, etc. For once, I have a decent table in front of me when I want to take my meals! Compared to those B737-500s and below, the flight deck is definitely more comfortable and modern.

The Boeing 737 cockpit, though more crammed, has better seats that hold well to wear and tear; further, the sheepskin cover feels pleasant to sit on too. Ah, when it comes to stowing the pilot*s navigation bag, you have to jam the bag down between the seat and the sidewall! :(

Generally, the B737 cockpit has not changed much as it tries to maintain fleet commonality with the older B737s. Most of the switches on the overhead panel are toggle switches whereas the A320 has cleaner and modern pushbutton/annunciator light combo.

Performance wise, the B737 out climbs the A320. The A319/320/321 and B737-600 or later all fly at the same speed (.78 Mach) whereas the B737-500 and lower models fly slower than the A320 models.

A B737-700, on a hot day at high altitude, say 4000 feet, could land at maximum landing weight, do a quick turn-around and take off at maximum weight. This is generally better than the A320 family (319/320/321) ? where the shorter A319 performs better than the longer A321.

The flight envelope protection on the A320 is rather cool and its automation designed during 1988 era was well ahead of the original B737s when it first came out of service. For instance, in a response to a GPWS (Ground Proximity Warning System) alert, the A320 can perform very well and safely clear the terrain when compared to the conventional B737. But, somehow, I feel the Airbus FMGC (Flight Management Guidance Computer) is less user-friendly than the Boeing*s FMC (Flight Management Computer).

The B737NG (Next Generation) models were developed when Boeing realized that they were losing grounds technologically to the A320. The 737NG, which includes the -600, -700, -800 and ?900 variants, is an entirely new aircraft, sharing very little with previous B737s other than the fuselage frame. New wings, new avionics and revised engines were the biggest engineering changes. So, a good comparision between the planes must be put into the correct perspective in order to be realistic as the NG planes, which were developed later, were catching up on the A320s.

The autobrakes of the B737 have 1, 2, 3 and MAX detent whereas those on the A320 have a LO, MED and MAX position. I find *LO* as not being very satifying and MED is more than what I need in most cases. The wonderful thing is that the *Brake Fans* do a pretty good job when the brake pads get too hot on short sectors. On the older B737s, there were no brake temperature gauges installed and brakes overheating was never a big issue.

The higher technology on the A320 comes with some irritating glitches once in a while on a cold morning - just like a new computer - where a reboot of the system often fix a false defect (simple eh?) Another thing, the hydraulic system on the Boeing is a few points ahead of the Airbus. Yes, some says, the Boeing 737 is a tough workhorse and serves many carriers well!

When it comes to cockpit philosophy, the Airbus is ahead. Take off and landing memos are very helpful and under emergency, the checklist is very comprehensive - often requiring reference to the tedious Flight Manuals ? hence the retractable table comes in very handy!

Where fuel is concerned, a 180-seater A320 is far more economical than a 148-seater B737-400. Fuel consumption is almost the same but the A320 carries 32 more passengers.

What do I think of the comparison? Well, one pilot who has many hours on both types states that, if he ever had a chance to create the ultimate medium jetliner, he would cut the Airbus cockpit and glues it to the B737 body! That probably sums up what I think of these two planes.

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Comments (28)

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Difference between A320 and B737
Dear Captain Lim

I was hopeing you would write more about the differences between these two aircrafts particularly with respect to wing design and their reaction to turbulance.

farook
Farook , 23 Jun, 2008
Boeing 737-400 Glider
Have a to do a paper on famous accident and wondering how Boeing's 737-400 glides? Incident happend at 27,800ft....I assume this is not a time-critical pilot decision....or does this sink like a rock? London to N.Ireland Cpt. Hunt

Thankx in advance for your help...trying to find emerg. procedures as well....any tips would be greatly appreciated

Newbee Pilot
Newbee Pilot , 09 Mar, 2009
Is the A320-200 bigger than the Boeing 737-800? , Low-rated comment [Show]
airbus
captain Lim

Is flying the airbus less complicated than other types?
secondly,for someone coming out of flight school can they fly right seat on an airbus?
thanks
wayne
wayne , 01 Jun, 2009
my observations
Interestingly, because I fly AirAsia's a320and Malaysia Airline's 737, when I fist board the A320 I tried to see whether the cabin is bigger (I didnt know that it was 7 inches wider then) and could "feel" a difference, I thought the width was similar. What I did notice is the legroom - I wasn't really happy with that. I'm quite thin but tall so this might explain that...

I do like the A320 better, mostly because it's newer than Malaysia Airlines' creeky old B737s!
anonymous , 02 Aug, 2009
Mine too
Like anonymous, I travel with AirAsia and MAS a lot, and I too think that the legroom is more of an issue than width.

Given the preference, I'd rather fly any aircraft, be it MAS's Boeing or AirAsia's Airbus, but I think MAS should upgrade to newer planes!! I once flew on a MAS Boeing plane where a huge panel of the fuselage was obviously "misfit" and sticking out about 1-2cm or so, and some sort of aviation "glue" was used to bond the gap between the panels!!! This was very noticeable during boarding because it's just right next the door. Naturally this is very unsettling.

With this regard I sacrifice the legroom for newer jets like AirAsia's, purely on safety issues. Otherwise I would prefer B737 legroom.
Abel , 03 Aug, 2009
B737
737CAN BE CRAMPED TO TRAVEL IN. BOTH AIRCRAFT HAVE THEIR PROS AND CONS!
CAPTAIN LIM, A DETAILED REPORT!!
ANON , 02 Nov, 2009
which one
just to make it clear, which B737 exactly you all are talking about ??? the old classic ones or the new NG ones ? smilies/smiley.gif

because the new NG -800s are totally different and modern than the old ones,, new gears, brakes, hydraulic,, of course avionic system is a major total change, pneumatics, body, winglets... everything, you can say it's another series of airplanes just with the 737 "name"

don't forget that the most successful 2 airlines in the world operate an all 737ng fleet + boeing sold more than 2500+ 737ng airplane in less than a decade

i don't say the A320 is less than the 737ng in anything, in fact it is modern, larger, etc... but the 737NG is an all new airplane with modern features and cannot be compared to the Classic 737s
Moemen , 03 Mar, 2010
My view on 737NG and A320
Dear Captain
It is very kind to have this great website.. I have been visting and participating in your site for over 7.5yrs now. i want to write my obervation on 737-800 and A320.

The Boeing 737NG family(600,700 and 800). Is not all all new design . The 737NG airframe and fuselage is based on 737-400 airframe.The wings, cockpit displays,hydraulics and lots of systems are new. In aviation the term all new design is used only when the aircraft is built from scratch. The Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 superjumbo are both all new airplanes.

The Airbus A320 is a fly by wire aircraft with full flight envelope protection. Boeing 737Ng is a conventional aircraft.When it comes to safety nad comfort fly by wire jetliners are more safer as they cannot be stalled or stressed.

In terms of operating economics i have heard the A320 have a lower operating cots than 737-800. The 737NG engines have more power thus can climb faster.

Today A320 is recognized as a work horse aircaft. Lots of lots of LCCs are now buying A320 for their fleet.




Ravi , 17 Apr, 2010
Cannot be Stalled or Stressed?
I certainly don't think that the A320 is an unsafe aircraft as it sports an excellent safety record. However, your comment that fly-by-wire aircraft are inherently safer than "conventional" aircraft lacks credibility. Please explain to the 216 souls who perished on Air France 447 how a fly-by-wire aircraft cannot be stalled or stressed. Like the A320, the A330-200 is also a fly-by-wire aircraft. The overwhelming (granted without definitive proof fromm the FDR)evidence points to that A330 being stalled and having the vertical stabilizer sheared off due to over stress.
Bryan , 29 Jun, 2010
B737 VS A320
dear captain,
its no doubt that the A320 has a pilot freindly atmosphere in the cockpit and certain advanced enginnering breakthroughs in its technical sphere,but when it comes to the enginnering advancements made in the last decade or so BOEING certainly has outmanuvered AIRBUS in terms of performace and efficiency.
zack khan , 15 Jul, 2010
guide
sir
i want to become a pilot.but my body weight is on the heavier side my age is 30 and I am an IT engineer by education.but my friends laugh at me saying u r a fat boy its impossible for u to become a pilot or even dream its a waste of time to heavy guy like u.Sir pls. guide me I want to become worlds best pilot is it possible for me
regards
biru
biru , 18 Jul, 2010
...
The most important thing is that for sure B737 fly better than A320 Family during bad weather..I would say that A320 is a flying electronic tube..and just to rigid when get caught inside a bad weather..smilies/wink.gif
Capt.Moe , 26 Jul, 2010
Aircraft model and specifications
Dear Captain Lim,

I am working in the airport industry and would like to seek some precious info from your expertise. Recently, I was tasked to undertake an analysis on various aircraft seating capacities. How does the aircraft model e.g. A380, A320, B727 which have many series allow a layman to determine its seating capacity?

Thank you in advance for your most precious advice.

Rachel
Rachel , 05 Aug, 2010
...
Boeingsmilies/kiss.gif
Boeing , 27 Sep, 2010
...
What about the comparisons between flying an A320 and an A330/A340
Rob , 13 Oct, 2010
Boeing vs Airbus
I seriously don't understand why everyone says "Boeings are safer than Airbus" and Airbus' are flying death traps?

I mean, look to the news, most crashes occuring today are from Boeing than airbus.

AirJamaica, even though they used almost all planes at first, to the transitioned to an Airbus only fleet, where they almost never had problems.

And after 40 years AirJamaica, has never had a crash, ever!
Sad that the corruption forced it to be sold to Caribbean Airlines where the fleet is going to be all 737-8's now. Dx

I guess the 737-8's should be safe, I've never flown in Boeing, I always trusted Airbus more. So the only airlines I've ever flown with are AirJamaica and U.S Airways smilies/cheesy.gif
A320, a321 and a319. All sweet Planes. Not to mention the 30 and 40!
The AA crash at Kingston's Airport also messed my growing comfort to boeing. Where I think it was a 737-8 that went straight off the runway. Lol
Zane , 22 Jan, 2011
...
If an 737 800 going off the run ways got you sold on Boeing not being safe the ok far out but look up flight 447 with airfrance, cathay flight 780, Air Canada flight 926, Quantas flight 72, all experiencing similar problems with loss of control in mid flight relating to the computer with flight 72 still experiencing problems in Manuel mode. I will stick Boeing and take my chances with a run way run off. You simply can base safety on news media.
A much more accurate way is an aircraft total hours by incidents leading to deaths will give you true safety rating. A good example is airdisaster.com/statistics
Larry , 09 Feb, 2011
...
Airdisasters.com/statistics
Larry , 09 Feb, 2011
safety
Safety can not be decided based on media but rather total flight hours of aircraft type with accident leading to death will give you your safety rating.
Larry , 09 Feb, 2011
Chief Thinking Officer http://www.crscube.com
I had Fear of Flying for ages, SO I did LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of research, your article is interesting but think like Anon said:

1 WHAT happened to AF447 HOW could Pilot error be the cause when it goes contrary to your comments and also to Airbus philosophy of having master control with the computer? You didn't answer that, despit all videos of NatGeo and History on this and others I've seen AND the fact that FRENCH pilots have HEAVILY protested the Pilot error theory

2 Technology is good but dangerous to just "hand over"

3 What IS required is understanding the REAL problem, night / cloud flying, where even the best of pilots can get disoriented, we need a GPS based LARGE screen that shows that plane on the terrain, you can have different views even front below sides so a Pilot can have a clear idea, the view can be calculated using a combo of GPS maps and multidirectional radars to verify THAT will give the pilot ENOUGH data to take correct decisions

3 Speaking of EQUIPMENT, the complexity is MIND boggling, you can fuckin turn off the VERTICAL autopilot (as in the Russion A300 crash where the pilots 15 yr old son was on the seat) and so many others the 1972 tristar one when the bump at the stick disengaged the vertical autopilot WE NEED SIMPLER EQUIPMENT, a COMPLETE RETHINK of flying instrumentation, REMEMBER the current instruments are a painstaking enhancement of the Wright Brothers and Amelia Earhart times, NOW it's a TOTALLY different ball game, planes are like buses, they don't rest, they JUST FLY day and night

4 AUTOPILOT reliance - SO many accidents have time and again pointed at faulty autopilots, IRS and pitot tube data input issues, GPS is a far more reliable method to ascertain height speed and environmental position (mountains sea etc)

5 My GUESS, FBW will continue, computer systems will IMMENSELY improve and cockpit design WILL be revamped sooner than later... and THAT will increase some level of safety

6) Airframe and turbulence wise, I cannot scientificaly prove but as a passenger BOEING rocks ANY DAY

7 All said and done commercial aircraft are not designed for passenger safety, military fighters with eject seats are, many a times I've thought of avoidable ways to cure potential accidents:

a) use of a foam or parachutes, or a softer deployable layer to reduce fall speed in case of total loss of control (rudder / wing failure, more like the shuttle canopy landing

b) parachutes or similar suited to commercial aircraft with eject option as the Gs in a stall would immobilize passengers

c) as above simplified systems

d) motorized control that work on wifi than cables as often control lines and wiring is destroyed leading to inoperable planes

e) pilot stress and resource management training, in MOST crashes BOTH pilots and even Engr are fixing ONE problem and leaving flying in dangerous conditions to the AP

Guys SERIOUSLY if you want I'm writing a paper with a training program recommendation to NTSB / DOT / FAA and others besides Boeing / Airbus, join me let's share knowledge then fight on egos

Add me on http://www.facebook.com/blahblah.info
Imran Owais Kazmi , 08 Nov, 2011
Check out this video distinguishing differences between Boeing 737 and Airbus 320.
Here is the video that Baltic Aviation Academy released where they compare Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 cockpits. I hope you'll find it helpful smilies/wink.gif

http://youtu.be/c06S8rCwOnI
Ruta , 12 Jan, 2012
saftey
I've had fear of flying for several years. im taking a flight soon so witch 1 is really the safest?
N/A , 14 Jun, 2012
Auto Trim
I hear the Airbus has auto trim. Does the Boeing also have this?
Matthew , 26 Aug, 2012
A320 VS 737
Hi all, i'll give my passengers opinion after having my first two A320 flights last month.
I've been more than 10x before in 737,737NG,747...
It was a 4hour flight (2x) from europe to canary islands and back.

1)Leg room is a bit less and less comfortable (i'm 188cm tall)
2)didn't notice any difference while taking off with the a320..just normal and good calm flight

now the very bad things (and reason why i am here posting)

3)TERRIBLE in turbulence and a total fail in Winds particularly at landings.

Both flights where windy at landing... but the plane just felt like a paper plane getting bounced one side to the other.
I'm Travelling by plane sinds i'm 5 years old, and alone sinds 8 years old...

And i've never been this scared than with the A320 in windy condition.
All the passengers where terrified when the plane safely hit the tarmac.

I thought @ the first flight : ' Well that was a pretty bad landing, probably the weather...'
@second flight : ' Well this is not normal. It's not the same pilot, not the same conditions and it was even more scary than the first time...this plane must be something weird or just not wind proof'

So i typed into google : " airbus a320 bad weather"
Hundreds of videos ... well.. searched a bit more and came across this site.

Honestly as a passenger, the 737/NG/747 (any boeing actually) has felt to me MUCH MORE SAFER.

I've only had one bad landing with a 737NG in crosswinds at landing.. but even that was not this scary.
If i could have the choice i wouldn't take A320 again.
Last Passenger , 01 Sep, 2012
a320 vs b737
come on, just dont radicalise your experience, of course its not as comfortable when you are 1,88 tall, the a320 has a system called flap3, it maintains the plane horizontaly in a 0dg angle, but doesnt block controls so you can make turns, the a320 also maintains the climbrate automatically and it has a "active" 66dg bank angle protection, that means if you put the plane in a 70dg bank angle, it will go back to a 66dg angle itself, a boeing only says "bank angle,bank angle" but doesnt do anything against this bank angle. a320=safer
MAX , 22 Oct, 2012
A320 VS 737
@Last Passenger: You are probably a "wanna be" aviation expert, you are acting the expert here and then say you are scared of flying Airbuses. Every real aviation expert will tell you, that the A320 and other Airbuses have very good safety records.
About the winds and turbulences: the A320 has a very stiff wing, it doesnt flex at all, its short and robust and so doesnt absorb the vibrations so well, while the 737 has a very flexy, thiner wing, it flexes very much. If you are scared by a little bit bumpy landing already, then I would recommend you to be scared by the flexy 737 wing too. smilies/wink.gif
Google "Wellington windy landings" and you will see, that in fact A320s handle the winds somehow better than the 737s in the video...
Now... Dont say passengers were terrified when the plane "hit" the tarmac, as only very few, bad informed people are afraid of flying Airbus, I definitely dont think they cried and screamed smilies/wink.gif You should read some info on Airbuses, then you'll see, that they ARE safe.
I mean: The 737 flew with a huge constructional mistake for long time and this constructional mistake is still there, just behind the cockpit there is an area, which lacks stability, it already happened to hawaian Airlines I believe, that this part was just blown off in mid flight, the area was reinforced, but its still lacks stability. Now tell me, do you think the 737 was safe untill the revision of that area? No! Was the whole world scared of flying it? No! So why are people scared of Airbuses, when they generally have an even better safety record than Boeings? I like both very much, but absolutely hate it, when people say Airbuses are unsafe.
About Flap3, no, its not a system, which maintains a 0dg horizontal angle, its a system, which deactivates the GPWS callout "too low flaps" when landing in flaps-3 config, instead of flaps-4/full config.
Wont tell , 30 Jul, 2013
Power engineer
I had travel all over the world in so many models of aircraft I would be believe that the Air bus A320 is just an other flying cemetery.
John Barrels , 05 Oct, 2014

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