Sunday 20 January 2019

Airbus A320neo vs Boeing 737 MAX, Which Airplane is Better?

Airbus A320neo vs Boeing 737 Max

Design of Airbus A320neo vs Boeing 737 MAX

The A320neo and 737 MAX each plane is come in three variants. Interestingly, the two aircraft families chose to drop the smallest version of the previous generation (A318 and 737-600). According to Airbus, the A320neo has 95% similarity to the A320ceo, and comes with two engine options: CFM LEAP-1A and Pratt & Whitney PW1100G GTF. The latter belongs to the family of Geared Turbofan (GTF) engines that will power most new generation aircraft, including Bombardier's CSeries, Embraer's E-Jet E2s, Russian-made Irkut MC-21s, and Mitsubishi Regional Aircraft (MRJ).

CFM International will be the sole supplier for Boeing 737 MAX, which will feature a slightly smaller LEAP-1B. When it started with an older fuselage, and thus less optimized, Boeing had to invest more in improving aerodynamics to reduce additional fuel efficiency, including the integration of nacelle wings, the LEAP engine and the new advanced technology winglets featuring split tips. Combined, this increase will result in an additional 2% fuel savings provided by the new engine. Boeing also had to extend the MAX landing gear to accommodate the larger LEAP-1B fan diameter: 69.4 inches (1.76 m), in contrast to 61.8 inches (1.56 m) of the CFM56-7B 737NG engine.

Maximum Range of Airbus A320neo vs Boeing 737 MAX

The 737-7 MAX has a maximum range of 3,350nm (6,204km), while the actual A319neo range (not advertised) is estimated at 3,650nm (6,759km). After discounting these numbers with a standard 15% -25% for factors such as fuel reserves, additional payloads and headwinds, stillair operation envelopes for these two aircraft remain in the range of 2,500-3,100 nm, comfortably allowing them to open all their missions with full loads.

The 737-8 MAX has an estimated maximum range of 3.515nm (6.509 km), while the actual A320neo range (not advertised) is estimated at around 3,300nm (6,110 km), reversing the superiority of the range possessed by the A319neo above -7 MAX. Theoretically, -8 MAX can fly long-haul flights, such as the transatlantic ones from LCC like Norway (DY), which A320neo cannot do.

Finally, the 737-9 MAX has the same range as -8 MAX, while the actual range (not advertised) of the A321 is estimated at 3,650nm (6,759 km). Both of them can comfortably operate all of their missions with full loads. However, the LR A321neo (long distance) extends the superiority of the A321neo range. The -9 MAX is a limited performance from ever reaching its full potential.

Engine of Airbus A320neo vs Boeing 737 MAX

Apart from the head-to-head advantages for members of both families, the overall contest is likely to be shaped by external factors from Boeing and Airbus. The main one came on the engine that would hang under the wings of each aircraft, between CFM LEAP and PW1100 GTF.

CFM has a major point in supporting it because there is a risk of substantial execution of the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan (GTF), a technology that is more innovative and thus more unproven. As a small example, look at software issues and certifications that encourage early A320neo shipments. The LH takes the first A320neo instead of Qatar Airways (QR) because it can operate it near the Lufthansa Technik treatment center and attend to all possibilities quickly - even though the Doha-based operator can't. QR also refused because the GTF engine had to run idle for three minutes after start-up; until the time frame passes, the aircraft cannot use its own strength. QR will not board the plane until the weakness is corrected. And Airbus has paid a penalty.

The broader point is that there is some risk of execution on GTF, and that has been hinted at by the market: even though positioning GTF as the preferred platform, CFM has a market share of 53% in neo alone and (by default) combined market share of 79%. So in the near future, orders may come to those who have better availability. This has swung back and forth between Airbus and Boeing over the past few years, and both manufacturers are competing to add production to their core single aisle program.

Airbus will increase the A320 production rate to 50 aircraft per month at the beginning of 2017 and to 60 in 2019. Boeing has committed to 52 aircraft per month with capacity up to 60 as well. With an uncertain engine situation, actual availability could be a determining factor in a neo versus MAX contest rather than a turbine under the wing.

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