The Boeing 737 family and the Airbus A320 family are two of the best selling airplane types this world has ever seen. According to this article, out of the estimated 23,600 aircraft in service (in 2016, at the time the article was written), around 13,000 belong to these two families. Thus, if you are sitting on any airport in the world, you are extremely likely to catch a glimpse of these aircraft. And thus comes the need to identify these and tell them apart!
A detailed guide to Identifying B737 v A320
You can use any of these criteria to differentiate a Boeing 737 from a Airbus A320:
1. Look at the cockpit windows
WANBV – Cockpit Windows of Airbus are Notched and Boeing are V-shaped
2. Look at the nose
NARBP – Nose of Airbus are Round and Boeing are Pointed
3. Look at the Vertical Stabiliser
SASBG – Vertical Stabiliser of Airbus is Steep and Boeing is Gradual
4. Look at the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)
AASBR – APU of Airbus is Sawed-off and Boeing is round
5. Look at the Engines
EARBF – Engines of Airbus are Round and Boeing are Flattened
To sum it up:
A closer look at the engines for better understanding:
Once you have identified whether it is a Boeing or an Airbus comes the more difficult part – identifying the variant.
Identifying the variants
Please note that since the families are large, we will attempt to list only the important variants.
One feature: Torpedo-like engines: Small but long
- Single overwing exit (-100 and -200 too have a single overwing exit. However, -300 is the only ‘modern’ looking 737 having a single exit)
- No winglets (you may see after-market winglets in -300s, but rarely)
- Two overwing exits
- No winglets (again, you may see after-market winglets)
- One overwing exit
- Upward flexing winglets (on most planes)
- Two overwing exits
- Winglets (blended winglets/split scimitar winglets)
Similar to -800 but has an additional exit door behind the wings. Therefore, the windows at the rear of the wings do not look evenly spaced
- Shark-fin style engine casing
- Double winglets
Note: Check out this amazing video for more
One feature: One overwing exit
Similar to A318 but longer
One feature: Two overwing exits
- No overwing exit; four evenly spaced exit doors
- Triangular wingtip
Similar to A320 but having a sharklet style winglet. Note that A320 has triangular wingtip.
Hope we were able to help you go further in your planespotting journey.
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Cover Image credits: Kiefer