The Airbus A220 family of aircraft has a special place in the Airbus lineup. Indeed, the type was ‘adopted’ as it was actually an acquisition of Bombardier’s CSeries program. Boeing saw the type as enough of a threat to its 737 program that a trade dispute was filed with the US government. With this premise, let’s compare the two variants closest to each other – the Airbus A220-300 and the Boeing 737 MAX 7 – to examine their similarities and differences.

A turbulent history

Before comparing the aircraft in a more technical sense, it’s worth re-visiting the history of the A220 and how it was almost killed-off by Boeing.

Shortly after Bombardier landed a major deal with Delta Air Lines for a firm 75 CS100s (now Airbus A220-100s) in 2016, Boeing filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission (USITC) alleging that the jets were being sold below production cost. In this 2017 case, Boeing also asserted that Bombardier’s subsidized sales of its CSeries in the US was at the detriment of its 737 program, which would soon see the 737 MAX enter service.

Delta A220 CSeries

Photo: Delta Air Lines

Five months after Boeing’s petition, the US Department of Commerce issued a preliminary ruling to impose a 219.63% tariff on every Bombardier CSeries airliner brought into the country. This would have effectively tripled the cost of each aircraft, while also likely being a dealbreaker for Delta Air Lines.

As reported by Bloomberg, Delta issued a statement saying that there was no risk to Boeing’s market- as it wasn’t actively producing aircraft in a similar size category.

“We are confident the USITC will conclude that no US manufacturer is at risk because neither Boeing nor any other US manufacturer makes any 100-110 seat aircraft that competes with the CS100…Boeing has no American-made product to offer because it canceled production of its only aircraft in this size range — the 717 — more than 10 years ago.”

This was certainly an interesting situation and premise put forward by Boeing at the time, based on Delta’s order of the CS100 – since this aircraft was much smaller than the Boeing 737 MAX 7. Of course, since then, Delta has also purchased the A220-300 – an aircraft that does come a little closer to Boeing’s smallest 737 MAX variant.

So, it’s this messy history between the two types that forms the backdrop for our comparison between the aircraft. Has the A220 become a competitor to the 737? Let’s find out.

Get all the latest aviation news right here on Simple Flying

Comparing aircraft sizes and passenger capacities

Ultimately, any comparison between two aircraft comes down to size and the number of passengers that can be transported. That is, of course, unless it’s a comparison for the sake of stark contrast – such as our 2020 article comparing the A220 to the A380. But, when it comes to the A220-300 and Boeing 737 MAX 7, the cabin sizes are much more similar.

The cabin length of the A220-300 is 27.5 meters (90′ 1″) while maximum cabin width is 3.28 meters (10′ 9″). Meanwhile, the cabin length of the MAX 7 is 26.11 meters (79′ 2″), while the width is 3.53 meters (11′ 7″). Already, you can see that the dimensions of these aircraft are quite different. The A220 is longer and narrower, while the MAX 7 is shorter and wider. It’s this difference that shapes the cabin layout for each aircraft, with the A220 being five-abreast in a 2-3 layout, and the MAX 7 being six-abreast in a 3-3 layout.

“” data-img-url=”” data-modal-container-id=”single-image-modal-container” data-modal-id=”single-image-modal”>

Boeing 737 MAX 7

So, if we do the math, the MAX 7 has slightly more floorspace than the A220 – 92 square meters compared to roughly 90 square meters. Of course, it needs to be noted that a narrowing of the cabin closer to the tail will also impact usable space.

Going by the official published seating for each aircraft, Boeing says the MAX 7 can fit as many as 172 passengers, while Airbus says that the A220-300 can accommodate a maximum of 160 passengers. Meanwhile, the suggested two-class configurations of each jet have the MAX 7 at 138-153 passengers, while the A220-300 seats 120-150.

Despite just two square meters difference in floorspace, it looks like Boeing’s aircraft can apparently squeeze in another 12 passengers. This highlights the fact that numbers are difficult to compare at face value, since neither manufacturer defines how much space is allocated to each passenger – whether we’re talking about maximum seating or two-class configurations. At the same time, maximum capacities can also be dictated by the number of exit doors and the amount of time it takes to evacuate an aircraft. Without all of these parameters noted on official, public websites, a fair and accurate comparison can be difficult. But overall, let’s settle on the fact that the Boeing MAX 7 has a slight advantage when it comes to passenger capacity.

Aircraft weight and range

The next important metrics that should be considered are aircraft weight and range. When it comes to weight, the A220-300 has an MTOW (Maximum Take-Off Weight) of 70,900 kg (156,300 lbs). The Boeing 737 MAX 7, on the other hand, has an MTOW of 80,290 kg (177,000 lbs). Meanwhile, the range of the MAX 7 is stated to be 3,850NM (7,130 km) while the A220-300 is listed at 3,400NM (6,297 km). These ranges are made possible by fuel capacities of 21,508 liters on the A220-300 (5,682 US Gal), and 25,816 liters (6,820 US Gal) for the MAX 7.

So, the Boeing jet is a heavier aircraft that can fly further. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as it’s a well-established trend for essentially all commercial aircraft. But examining the performance figures of the aircraft, it would appear that fuel efficiency between the two jets is quite comparable. Indeed, if the A220-300 were able to more closely match the range of the heavier MAX 7, then it would be a clear indication of increased efficiency. However, the ranges of both aircraft respective to their MTOWs seem to put fuel burn close to one another.

Aircraft ranges compared


Cargo capacity

So the two aircraft are close to each other in passenger capacities and also offer comparable efficiency. But airlines might also care about cargo capacity and the ability to transport freight or parcels in the belly hold (in addition to passenger baggage, of course).

According to the cargo website for SWISS, the A220-300 can carry about 28 cubic meters (989 cubic feet) of cargo in its two belly compartments. The MAX 7, on the other hand, has a cargo capacity of 32.3 cubic meters (1,139 cubic feet) – at least according to the website Modern Airliners. On the websites of both ANA Cargo and Delta Air Lines, it states that the similarly-sized 737-700 has a cargo capacity of 27 cubic meters (952 cubic feet).

Ultimately, for both jets, ground crews will be required to load and unload individual pieces of baggage by hand, as neither aircraft has a belly large enough to accommodate standardized Unit Loading Devices (ULDs). It’s worth noting, however, that A320 family aircraft – even the small A319, can accommodate the smaller ULD container known as the LD3-45.

Passenger comfort and experience

Since we’re not likely to encounter pilots that have flown both aircraft, making any comparison on the piloting experience would be unfair. However, what can be said about the experience for passengers?

Comparisons of passenger comfort can be challenging in its own way – especially when so much of this experience is determined by the airline. Seat spacing, seat comfort, and inflight entertainment – all of these are selected by the operator, and not the airframe manufacturer.

However, we can say that the A220-300’s typical 2-3 seating layout is often highlighted as a feature by the airlines operating the type. Overall, this layout means fewer middle seats, thereby giving a little more comfort and privacy to couples and pairs traveling together. Large overhead bins are another feature often mentioned in A220 sales material, although Boeing’s newer “Space Bins” are a big improvement from the overhead bins of older 737s.

“” data-img-url=”” data-modal-container-id=”single-image-modal-container” data-modal-id=”single-image-modal”>

Boeing 737 MAX interior

Another passenger experience factor determined by the manufacturer is the aircraft window. In this case, the 737’s windows are smaller – 10″ x 14″ (25.4cm x 35.56cm). The A220’s windows are a bit larger at 11″ x 16″ or 28 x 40.6cm. In addition to a difference in window size, the position of windows is different for each type as well. Window-seat passengers on the 737 (the MAX, but also all others) will find that they have to slouch down it bend down slightly to look straight out the window. For those who love to get a good look out at the horizon or the world outside, the A220’s windows are preferable.

airbaltic a220 cabin

Photo: airBaltic

Aircraft sales and popularity with airlines

Acquisition costs, maintenance costs, the fit within the rest of an airline’s fleet – there are many factors that will determine how well an aircraft sells. So when it comes to the types in today’s comparison, how have they performed thus far?

According to data, the Boeing 737 MAX 7 has racked up orders for 290 units. Most notably, this includes 236 for Southwest Airlines. Another 30 are listed as being ordered by Allegiant Air, while two were ordered by Ukraine’s SkyUp Airlines and another two for China’s Rulli Airlines. Given current geopolitics, the latter four jets may end up being canceled – or perhaps re-allocated to join the 20 orders currently marked as “unassigned.”

For the Airbus A220-300, ch-aviation data lists a total of 700 ordered. Of the largest customers, JetBlue leads the pack with orders for 100 of the variant, while Breeze comes in 2nd place with 80. Delta comes in 3rd place with 62. Then it’s 60 each for Air France and Air Canada, and 50 for airBaltic.

Air Canada Airbus A220

Photo: Airbus

So, when it comes to aircraft sales and popularity, it would appear that the A220-300 is the more popular aircraft at this point. Of course, with any sales comparison, it’s important to examine program launch dates and entry into service. The A220-300 has been flying commercially since December 2016 and, as a result, has had a little over six years of service.

On the other hand, the MAX 7 has yet to be certified let alone enter service. This will certainly be a factor in the type’s low sales. At the same time, we should also keep in mind that airlines placing large orders for other MAX variants will have the ability to swap certain variants in their orders. Thus, airlines like Southwest or Allegiant could always swap some MAX 8 orders for more MAX 7s… or perhaps less!

Allegiant 737 MAX 7

Photo: Allegiant

Aircraft issues

Finally, we should discuss all the issues that each aircraft type has faced. After all, even an aircraft with stellar technical specifications might be less desirable to operators if it’s constantly facing airworthiness directives and operational issues.

So on this topic, the MAX 7 faces the most obvious issue of regulator certification. While Boeing’s prototypes have undoubtedly racked up thousands of flight hours and cycles during testing, the MAX 7 has yet to enter full production nor enter commercial service.

For much of 2022, the MAX 7, as well as the MAX 10, have been in a precarious situation, with a specific government-mandated certification deadline looming. This presented a risk of introducing a different cockpit to the -7 and -10 than is currently found on the -8 and -9. However, a solution was found that will see the new MAX variants attain certification with cockpits common to the -8 and -9. While this will ensure 737 MAX cockpit commonality across all four variants, Boeing has agreed to refit all MAX jets with a new cockpit alerting system three years after the MAX 10 is certified.

737 MAX Southwest

Photo: Southwest Airlines

As for the Airbus A220-300, the type has had its fair share of issues in its first few years of service. The most common type of issue has been engine shutdowns involving the type’s Pratt & Whitney PW1000 powerplants. Indeed, operators around the world have experienced various forms of engine failures taking place during flight. Engine software might have been one of the key reasons for issues, as the FAA in 2020 required that operators of the type remove certain full-authority digital engine control software and install new software.

Conclusion: Are these aircraft comparable?

To conclude our comparison, it does appear that, when it comes to mission profile, these two jets have a little bit of overlap with one another. Was Boeing justified in its case against the Bombardier CSeries? Perhaps not against the CS100 – but a little more so with the CS300/A220-300.

So can we say that one jet is better than the other? Well, as you can see from our various considerations, there are pros and cons to each type.

The 737 MAX’s CFM LEAP-1B turbofans seem to have had fewer in-service issues than the PW1000s powering the A220. However, the A220-300 is actually flying and in-service, while the MAX 7 is not – something that airlines seem to care about.

Fuel efficiency is comparable and will undoubtedly vary depending on load factor. However, operators hoping to fly a little further than what the A220 is capable of may want to consider the MAX 7 instead. Of course, the 737’s higher MTOW will also result in higher operating costs when it comes to airport fees based on aircraft weight.

“” data-img-url=”” data-modal-container-id=”single-image-modal-container” data-modal-id=”single-image-modal”>

Swiss airbus a220-300

So, in many respects, there are just so many factors to consider when determining which aircraft is better. However, at least from a passenger experience perspective, it would seem that the winner would have to be the A220-300 with its 2-3 layout and larger windows.

But what do you think? In what ways might the MAX 7 be a better aircraft than the A220-300? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Sources: Bloomberg, SWISS World Cargo, Modern Airliners,


Napsat komentář

Vaše e-mailová adresa nebude zveřejněna.

You May Also Like

Airbus Helicopters Posts Strong Medevac Order Intake

Airbus Helicopters announced continuing strong sales into the U.S. medical market at…

The Complex Art of Aircraft Utilization

DALLAS – Aircraft are the most important and valuable assets of an…

Why Don’t Planes Use Reverse Thrust To Push Back?

When a plane departs an airport, its first movement will be to…

Quiz: 6 Questions To See How Well You Know Aircraft Systems

How’s your systems knowledge? 1) You’re performing an engine run-up before takeoff.…