Top 10: Most popular Boeing and Airbus planes
An awful lot of planes are going to come into service over the next twenty years.
Airbus has predicted that the world will need 26,000 new passenger and freighter planes between 2010 and 2029, at a cost to airlines of US $3.2 trillion.
Here, LogisticsMiddleEast.com finds out which big planes are most in demand by looking at Airbus and Boeing’s order backlogs.
The numbers are based on data up to December 31, 2010.
In addition to the size of each plane’s order backlog, we also state how many units of each model have been delivered during its lifetime, using estimates where necessary.
1. Boeing 737
Order backlog: 2186 planes
Number delivered: 6600 est.
About: The first 737 was ordered in 1965 and the plane is now on its 12th iteration, the 737-900ER. The single aisle plane is the most commercially successful ever built, having sold nearly 9000 units over the past 45 years. Its capacity and range have evolved with each new version, reaching the current levels of 215 passengers (in a single-class configuration) and 3200 nautical miles. The year 2010 was a particularly good one for the 737, with net orders reaching 486 units. Southwest is the most famous user of the model, running a fleet of around 550 planes made up exclusively of the 737.
2. Airbus A320
Order backlog: 1948 planes
Number delivered: 2554
About: The singe aisle A320 seats 150 passengers in a standard two-class configuration and up to 180 with high-density seating. The huge demand for this plane has prompted Airbus to open a third assembly site, in China, in an effort to bring monthly output to 40 units per month by 2012. More than 4500 Airbus A320s have been ordered over the plane’s lifetime and more than 2550 have been delivered, leaving a backlog of nearly 1950 planes. The model’s life is being extended further by the recent announcement of the A320neo, a ‘next gen’ version of the plane that promises greater operating efficiency.
3. Boeing 787
Order backlog:847 planes
Number delivered: 0
About: The 787, or ‘Dreamliner’, promises to use 20% less fuel than current planes carrying similar numbers over passengers over similar distances. The 787-8 will carry 210-250 passengers up to 8200 nautical miles and the 787-9 will carry 250-290 passengers up to 8500 nautical miles. The twin aisle plane’s promise of large efficiency gains has proven attractive to airlines, which have ordered nearly 850, but the only problem is that it should be in service by now. After another setback last December, however, when a test plane caught fire, there is still no firm delivery date. The order book for 2010 showed four net cancellations and Qatar Airways has recently signalled it may scrap its orders if there are further development problems.
4. Airbus A350
Order backlog:583 planes
Number delivered: 0
About: The A350 is Airbus’s direct response to the 787 and like the Boeing plane, it is still in the development phase. The plane had to undergo a complete design revision after it was first announced, when airlines rejected the initial version of the plane. Like the 787, it is another ‘next gen’ model that promises to deliver significant leaps in operating efficiency over current planes. Three versions of the plane are available, seating 270, 314 and 350 passengers over distances of up to 8500 nautical miles. Its promised efficiency gains will be achieved through the use of composite materials and a carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) fuselage.
5. Airbus A330
Order backlog:354 planes
Number delivered: 750
About: The A330-200 accommodates 253 passengers in a two-class layout with the A330-300 fitting 300 passengers into two classes. The A330-200F is a dedicated freighter version of the plane, which can carry 65 tonnes over 4000 nautical miles, or 70 tonnes over 3200 nautical miles.
6. Boeing 777
Order backlog: 253 planes
Number delivered: 910 est.
About: The 777 seats between 301 and 368 passengers in a three-class configuration, with range capabilities of between 5240 and 9395 nautical miles. Launched in 1995, it comes in six variants, including a dedicated cargo model. The 777-200LR Worldliner can fly further than any other commercial plane and go approximately half way around the world without refuelling.
7. Airbus A321
Order backlog: 231 planes
Number delivered: 626
About: The A321 is an enlarged version of the A320. Its fuselage is 44.51 metres long, allowing airlines to pack 185 passengers into a standard two-class layout and up to 220 if airlines choose to squeeze more seats in.
8. Airbus A319
Order backlog: 230 planes
Number delivered: 1272
About: The A319 is effectively a slightly smaller version of the A320. It carries 124 people in its standard two-class configuration and up to 156 if airlines opt for ‘high density’ layouts.
9. Airbus A380
Order backlog:193 planes
Number delivered: 41
About: The double decker A380 is the largest commercial plane in operation, with room for 525 passengers in a standard three-class configuration. Airlines can accommodate up to 850 by opting for a compact single-class layout. Airbus has positioned the A380 as the answer to growing congestion at major airports, although only five airlines currently have it in operation. Emirates is by far the plane’s largest customer, having ordered 90, with 15 now in operation. A larger version of the A380, capable of seating 650 passengers in a standard layout, and a freighter version have been postponed. The break even point for the plane is thought to be between 270 and 400 units, a figure that has not yet been reached.
10. Boeing 747
Order backlog:107 planes
Number delivered: 1418 est.
About: The 747 is the original jumbo jet and is also known as the ‘Queen of the Skies’. It has been in operation since 1970 and has been through several iterations since then. It is recognised by its distinctive upper hump, which accommodates an extra deck of seating. The latest version, the Boeing 747-8, is designed to meet demand for a plane in the 400-500 seat range. It will use many of the same lightweight materials used in the 787, hence the use of the ‘8’ in its title. Boeing claims that it will use considerably less fuel per passenger than the A380. In response to the A380, Boeing initially looked at doing a stretch version seating 500+ passengers, but airline response was cool and the idea was dropped.