Boeing 737 Max

World’s Most Popular Aircraft: Boeing 737 or Airbus A320?

LAN Airbus A320

LAN Airbus A320

Boeing Co. launched its 737 family of jets in 1964, and since then the company has snagged 12,257 firm orders for the plane. Airbus launched its competitor single-aisle, narrow-body family, the A320, in March 1984 and claims 11,021 firm orders since the A320’s launch.

Boeing’s 20-year longevity lead tips the scales in the company’s favor, but if only orders since the A320’s launch are counted, Airbus has taken roughly 52% of the orders, compared with 48% for Boeing. The data have been compiled by industry analyst and consulting firm Leeham and independent website pdxlight.

Since March of 1984, Airbus has taken firm orders number 13,201 for its A320 family of planes. In the same period, Boeing has taken firm orders for 12,301 of its 737 family of planes. Looking just at the new planes that have been announced by both companies, the Boeing 737 MAX claims a total of 3,579 orders, options and memoranda of understanding. The Airbus A320 claims a total of 4,774. As Scott Hamilton at Leeham notes:

The first new A320, the A320neo, is scheduled to enter service in October of next year. The new 737 MAX family is not scheduled to make its entry into service until July 2017.

Boeing has suggested that it may develop a “clean-sheet” new single-aisle plane, a threat that Airbus dismisses, saying there will not be enough new technology for new plane to enter service until 2030.

Airbus even slapped Boeing around in late October with its announcement of an A321neoLR (new engine option, long range) that replaces the Boeing 757-200 on so-called long-thin routes of around 3,900 nautical miles with too few passengers to make a dual-aisle plane like the 777 or 787 economical. Boeing’s answer to the demise of the 757-200 was the 737 MAX 9, but the new Airbus plane should put the venerable 737 jet in the shade, according to Leeham.

Boeing’s problem is that the new 737 MAX family will have three jets and only one, the 737 MAX 8, will sell in quantity while the MAX 7 is non-existent and the MAX 9 is expected to sell poorly. So far Airbus has taken orders for 729 A321neos, compared with orders totaling 217 for the 737 MAX 9. The A320neo has orders for 2,494 compared with 2,023 for the 737 MAX 8. The numbers will only get worse.


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