How To Spot A Boeing v Airbus Aircraft - Not So Easy!
Author: Australis Gifts Date Posted:4 November 2019
Was Your Aircraft Manufactured By Boeing Or Airbus
So you are flying somewhere and want to know what type of aircraft you are flying, or the manufacturer. The two largest commercial aircraft manufacturers are Boeing of the USA and Airbus of Europe. You might see the aircraft type when booking your ticket, or you could look at your boarding pass which might have the aircraft type (however last minute equipment changes are possible). But what if you see a plane and wonder is that a Boeing or Airbus aircraft, is it a Boeing 737or an Airbus A320. How do you tell? You need an eye for detail most of the time. This short article is only meant to be a 'starter' for novices so if you are an aviation buff don't get too worked up about my beginner generalisations.
Subtle Aircraft Characteristics to Look Out For
Do what planespotters do (however just like the english language there are always exceptions!). Look at the aircraft's cockpit windows, tail shape, doors, engines, landing gears, and winglets/wingtips. But first of all look at the aircraft's "nose". The nose of an aircraft can give you a clue as to whether the aircraft was manufactured by Boeing or Airbus. Boeing aircraft generally have an aircraft nose that might be described as longer, pointier or sharper than the nose of an Airbus aircraft where the nose is often rounder, shorter, bulbous or dolphin shaped. Cockpit windows are also an indication as to the aircraft manufacturer. On Boeing aircraft the cockpit side window is often smaller and Airbus aircraft have a larger side window with a 'notch' out of the corner like a mobile phone sim card.
So You Think You Know Your Aircraft
Two of the easiest aircraft to identify are two of the biggest - the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747. The A380 is the largest commercial aircraft and the only one with two decks for passengers that run the length of the aircraft. The 747 also has two decks but the upper deck only runs the partial length of the aircraft. Both of these aircraft have four engines. If you spot a single deck aircraft which also has four engines it is likely to be an Airbus A340.
Two of the most popular twin-engine narrowbody aircraft are the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320. As mentioned previously, look at the nose and cockpit windows for an indication of the manufacturer. The 737 has a longer pointier nose than the A320. The A320 has the notched cockpit side window. The 737 sits lower to the ground and has a shorter front landing gear compared to the A320 that has higher ground clearance and a taller front landing gear. Looking at the front, the A320 has round engines whilst the 737 has a flat spot at the bottom of the engine.
The landing gear of the aircraft can also give you a clue as to the type of aircraft. For example, the Boeing 767 is a widebody aircraft that has two sets of two wheels under the wing i.e. four wheels on each side of the fuselage and two nose wheels - ten wheels in total. The Boeing 777 has two enormous GE90 engines, a bladed non-conical tail shape, and three sets of two wheels under the wings. Think triple wheels, 777. The Boeing 787 has four separate cockpit windows, but also has a zig-zag or a saw-tooth pattern on the rear of the engine cowling.
The widebody twin-engine Airbus A330 has normal looking small winglets that are slanted/sloped whereas the Airbus A350 has steep curved winglets and six cockpit windows with a dark surround - it looks like the A350 is wearing sunglasses or a batman mask!
Here is a tip for aircraft registered in China such as those of Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines. Look at the aircraft's registration number - usually towards the tail of the aircraft and starting with the letter "B". Since 2018, the first number after the "B-" indicates whether the aircraft was manufactured by Boeing or Airbus. A "2" indicates a Boeing aircraft, and a "3" indicates an Airbus aircraft.
If you know what to look for on an aircraft with practice you too can become an expert planespotter.
Have a look at our quality model aircraft and see if you can spot the differences! Shop Now