The Airbus vs. Boeing Ad-War

An „ad-war“ broke out, media says, when Airbus published an ad in several aerospace publications, accusing Boeing to lie when they compare performance of the B737MAX with the A320neo and the B747-8I with the A380.
A good summary can be found here. What I found amusing is that obviously the Pinocchio theme is a tit-for-tat response to spat over market share back in 1994...

One could see it a little bit differently: maybe the war was “broken” by Boeing when they began to publish their ads about B737MAX vs. A320neo and B747-8I vs. A380 performance?
But lets look at the facts:
Boeing always claimed that the B737-800NG has an 8% cost advantage versus the A320 an a per-seat basis and as the B737-800NG has a typical seating of 162 seats versus 150 seats in the A320 this means that the cost per flight are more or less equal, as the seat difference is exactly 8%.
Now Airbus claims that the A320neo needs 15% less fuel than the A320ceo. Boeing claims that the B737MAX needs 13% less fuel than the NG.
Let’s say fuel costs are 50% of overall (cash operating) costs.
Then the A320neo cost per flight is 92.5% of the A320ceo cost per flight (0.85*50% fuel costs + 50% other costs).
The B737MAX-8 cost per flight is 93.5% of the B737-800NG cost (0.87*50% fuel cost + 50% other costs).
So after reengining there is a slight advantage for the A320neo in terms of cost per flight.
On a per seat basis there is an advantage for the B737MAX-8 of 6.85%.

Of course, this is a very simplified view at the costs. Any change in maintenance costs of the airframe and the engines also play a role. But if you compare the LEAP-1A powered A320neo with the LEAP-1B powered B737MAX-8, the changes in engine maintenance costs should be comparable to the CFM56 powered A320ceo and B737-800NG.

The question is why Airbus and Boeing are “communicating” via ads? Airbus says that the Boeing ads might let “less sophisticated airlines” keep from talking to Airbus directly.
“Less sophisticated airlines”?
Of course, there are airlines which have a better aircraft performance analysis than other ones – the larger the airline, the better the capabilities, I guess. I know Lufthansa always does a very thorough analysis before buying any aircraft. Singapore Airlines also does very good work here as many others also. Air France probably as well does a good job here, although on the engine side thy seem to be always preferring a GE/CFM engine choice (if available), as the national player Snecma (Safran) is involved there.
But look at the recent comments from Estonian’s CEO about the CRJ900, calling the aircraft not competitive for markets with less than 80 seats (the CRJ900 has 88 seats at Estonian). So why, one could ask, did they choose an aircraft with more than 80 seats when they know they want to use it in markets with less than 80 seats?
Clearly, the department for aircraft performance analysis at Estonian – if there is one – lacks some competency, as well as all of the upper management, as they finally gave approval to buy the aircraft.
So Airbus in the end might have a point here in launching the counter-ad…


  1. So what you're saying is that they are both correct? If so, then who is lying about the ads?
    If an airline has an aircraft performance department that does not know what they're doing, would they be in service in a few years? I really don't get that.

    1. Boeing can't be correct. If they are 8% better before reengining, they can't be after.
      If Estonian will survive we will see...

  2. I noticed that Boeing had said that one reason why the 737Max will only be about 13% more efficient than the current 737NG is because they had already improved the 737NG by about 2% with the 737 evolution upgrade that they just introduce at the beginning of the year. Weather Boeing can get another 13% on that airframe is a tough one, but I guess it more likely totally come from the new engines attached to it.

  3. My guess is that it will be hard getting 13%, counting in the sdded weihht from engines, pylons, wings and front landing gear. The new winglets will help aerodynamically, but also add weight, so won't really improve fuel burn on short haul flights.

  4. Were the CFM engines manufacture that good 20 years ago that a new design today can not make it any lighter even though they're putting in new composite fan and fan case. I know that the engines are suppose to be a little bigger, but my understanding is that more likely is just the fan that grew to 69.4 from 61 inches. Are the core and turbines of the new LEAP engine any bigger than the CFM56-7B?

  5. The core is smaller, but has more stages. Also the LPT has more stages. Remember that the volume of the engine increases by (69.4^2/61^2), that is almost 30%. Hard to come by by materials. The temperatures are higher, so you can't use light materials like titanium in so many of the sates in the compressor as in the "old cool" engine. This is true also for the GTF compared to the V2500 on the A320neo, of course.

  6. Is a pity that the full potential of these engine will not be fully obtained by been used on the A320 and B737. New clean sheet design would have been so much better. Is a little funny how it developed. One OEM was fearful of the new comer (CS300) and the other because it was pushed into it. Funny too that the whole world seems to be stock in a long recession and airlines keep deferring planes that by the time they get them, a totally new airplane could have made more sense after all.

  7. Would CFM really be capable of pulling off a good engine for the B737 under those constrains (fan size and weight)? When the whole LeapX engine study went into effect, was it not for a clean sheet dosing NB? Interesting times ahead.

  8. @Anonymous November 30 4:37 PM
    These engines WILL show their full potential on clean sheet designs: UAC/Irkut MS-21 and COMAC C-919.
    Airbus is delivering planes like at no other time.
    Perhaps some customers have delayed, but there is so much back-log and other customers who do want deliveries.
    LeapX looks to be shaping up very nicely, although it's wider diameter variant for A320NEO of course has advantages.