The single-aisle airliner market is one of the most lucrative and hotly contested segments in the aviation business. But for the past 15 years, that white-hot competition has almost exclusively been between two companies — Airbus and Boeing.
In recent years, companies from around the world have launched aircraft aimed at breaking the Airbus-Boeing duopoly.
On Wednesday, the latest challenger made its world debut in the form of the Irkut MC-21.
In addition to the Russian Irkut, there are a slew of state-of-the-art airplanes from around the world designed to challenge the Airbus A320neo family and the Boeing 737 MAX-Series.
But before we get to the challengers, lets take a look at the Airbus A320neo and the Boeing 737 MAX.
Airbus A320neo family
The Airbus A320neo family of airplanes are updated versions of the company’s original A320-family with new-generation engines and optimized aerodynamics.
The line up of medium-range airliners include a trio of models — the 160-seat A319neo, the 189-seat A320neo, and the 240-seat A321neo. All three variants can be equipped with modern CFM LEAP-1A or Pratt & Whitney PW1100G turbofan engines.
Thus far, Airbus has nearly 4,600 orders for the various versions of the A320neo. The first A320neos entered service in early 2016.
Boeing 737 MAX-Series
Like the A320neo, the 737 MAX is the latest version of Boeing’s long-serving short-to-medium range airliner that it has been selling for 50 years.
For MAX duty, Boeing gave its 737 new engines, wings, avionics, and a slew of other updates. The 737 MAX series is made up of four different variants — the 149-seat 737 MAX7, the 189-seat MAX8, the 200-seat MAX200, and the 220-seat MAX9.
The updated 737 is available with new CFM LEAP-1B turbofan engines. Boeing has 3,200 orders for the 737MAX and is expected to enter service in 2017.
The Bombardier C-Series is Airbus’ and Boeing’s most prominent rival. Although the Canadian airplane maker has long-been a major player in regional airliners, the C-Series is the first time the company has had to compete against the US and European titans.
The Bombardier airliner has, thus far, struggled to net the level of sales as the 737 and the A320. But the C-Series has garnered critical acclaim for its performance, fuel efficiency, and design.
The C-Series lineup consists of two variants of the plane — the 133-seat CS100 and the 160-seat CS300. In the marketplace, the C-Series competes against the Boeing 737MAX7 and the Airbus A319neo.
Like the A320neo, the C-Series is powered by a version of Pratt & Whitney’s revolutionary geared turbofan engines — the PW1500G. The Bombardier C-Series entered commercial service in July with SWISS and has more than 300 firm orders for the plane.