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Home > Air Travel > Airbus versus Boeing
Airbus versus Boeing
Flying - Air Travel
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 15:05

Captain Lim Khoy Hing has a favourite. Read on to see which is his preferred aircraft, and why.

Having piloted both the Airbus and Boeing aircraft, I am often asked which airplane is better. From a passenger’s perspective, both are equally safe and comfortable, effectively getting you from point A to point B. From a pilot’s perspective however, I’m of the opinion that the Airbus A330 is a notch above the Boeing 777.

Of course, hardcore Boeing fans would disagree. Well, allow me to elaborate further.

Image: Travel 3Sixty

An AirAsia X Airbus A330-300

Airbus aircraft limit pilots’ handling of the plane in certain manoeuvres as the computers prevent the pilot from pushing the plane past its safe limits. As such, Airbus is of the opinion that a highly automated flight is safer as it would reduce human error. In contrast, Boeing leaves ultimate control of the plane to the pilot.

Another major differentiating feature is that unlike the Airbus, which has the sidestick for pilots to control the aircraft, Boeing planes primarily use the traditional ‘yoke’ system akin to a car’s steering wheel.




Image: Travel 3Sixty

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

A Pilot’s Greatest Gift

In my personal opinion, the best part about flying the Airbus might perhaps be viewed by some as trivial – I adore the pilot’s stowable table in the cockpit. I can safely say that 80 per cent of my time as a pilot was on a plane without a table! When I flew the Boeing 737s or Boeing 777s, mealtimes were not as comfortable as today on the Airbus, as I always ate from a tray on my lap instead of on a table, but I gradually got used to it. I had to move my seat back, away from the control wheel, in order to place the meal tray on my lap. If my attention was suddenly required at the controls, I would need to reset my seat so that my hands and legs were back in the usual position.

I was a Boeing ‘driver’ for a number of years and having flown with two different airlines, I must say that the stowable table in the Airbus cockpit is a pilot’s greatest gift in aviation! The pilot can refer to manuals or landing charts, or do calculations on flying performance or copy a complicated clearance from the air traffic control, all with ease.



Image: Travel 3Sixty

Boeing planes primarily use the traditional ‘yoke’ system.

Eye of the Beholder

The introduction of the sidestick on the Airbus for the pilot and co-pilot not only offers more space for installing the stowable table, but also allows for more precise manoeuvering of the aircraft. Besides Airbus, many other airline manufacturers have abandoned the control wheels, opting for, or progressing towards the sidestick.

This leaves Boeing and only a few other aircraft with central control wheels for each of the cockpit’s two occupants. The question now seems to be, how long before the yoke/control wheel disappears in modern cockpits? Only time will tell.

There are also other differences when flying the two types of planes. The automatic power control on the Airbus is known as the auto-thrust, whereas it is referred to as the auto-throttle on the Boeing. I love the Airbus autothrust system; it takes care of the flying speeds and slows down the plane as it approaches for landing. When using the Boeing autothrottle, the pilot has to manually select the flight speed.

Also when it comes to appearance, I prefer the Airbus 330’s majestic curved winglets on the plane’s wing tips; the Boeing 777 and 787 do not have winglets. But, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

When all is said and done, despite their differences, both Airbus and Boeing have achieved superb safety records, and for travellers, that’s what matters the most.

Image: Travel 3Sixty

The Airbus sidestick and collapsible tray table is a pilot’s greatest gift in aviation.

A Matter of Preference

AirAsia flies the Airbus. But, regardless of which plane you fly on, for the air traveller, safety and comfort are of ultimate importance. I mentioned at the outset that both Airbus and Boeing are equally safe and comfortable, but I must confess that I am incredibly partial to the Airbus stowable table!

I wish you a safe and happy flight.
 

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