Why Airbus names starts with 3 and why Boeing use 7X7 naming system

Many terms or words we use frequently in daily life actually underlie different stories. We usually accept those words as they are and don’t feel the need to investigate the logic behind them. Yes, in this article, we will explain the model names of Airbus and Boeing companies that we use or come across almost every day in aviation.

Airbus models naming system

 As you know, Airbus company names its models as the codes starting with three (3). A330, A320, A340… Then, why does Airbus start with the number 3 when naming the models of the aircraft it produces (There is an exception to the nomenclature that Airbus makes as A3XX. In 2017, the company decided to acquire a majority stake in the production programs of Bombardier C series aircraft and changed the names of the CS100, CS300 model aircraft to A220-100 and A220-300).

Passenger capacity was the first reason

Yes, let’s return to the naming of Airbus in the form of A3XX. The world’s first twin-engine wide-body aircraft Airbus A300 is a short and medium range, wide-body passenger and transport aircraft. Its construction started in 1972. The name A300 refers to a very basic data which is passenger capacity. Yes, the first A300 has been put to indicate passenger capacity.

Airbus A300

Airbus did not break this tradition later and gave the new models A310, A320, A330, A340, A350, A380 and some variations of these names. If you noticed, A370 and A360 model names were not used.

It is said that there are some reasons behind not using these names. First of all, the company designed the A380 plane as the world’s largest passenger plane model. The company concluded that the A370 name might create confusion with its rival Boeing B7X7 coding system in its studies during the production phase. The name A380 was given because the body profile of the aircraft was thought to resemble the number eight (8). Finally, it was thought that the company, targeting the Asian market, calls the aircraft the “A380”, considering the value and specialty of the number eight (8) in Asian culture.

I would like to mention a final issue regarding Airbus models. Airbus models are specified in detail with 7 digits. For example, an airplane named A320-231 belongs to the A320 family. In codes 231, we first understand that the plane is the second version. We understand the type of engine used in the aircraft from the last two steps 31. And the thrust force of the engine from the last digit. Let’s give one more example. We understand that an A330-243 model aircraft belongs to the A330 family, that it is the 2nd version and that it is powered by Rolls Royce engines from the number 4 and we understand from the last number 3 that it has the thrust power of 772B 320 Kn.

Boeing models naming system

Now it’s time for Boeing’s naming system. American aircraft manufacturer Boeing names most of its jet-powered aircraft models according to the 7X7 principle. The first aircraft to be named with this principle was the B707. When we look at the history of the Boeing company, we first see that it is a company that produces military aircraft. However, after the Second World War, Boeing decided to produce commercial aircraft. Naming the aircraft, the company used 300 and 400 aircraft for the ongoing aircraft production. Turbine-powered aircraft received codes of 500, and rockets and missiles began to use codes of 600. Boeing gave 700 codes for jet engine aircraft in this naming strategy. In line with its marketing strategy, the company gave the code 707 to its first aircraft, and then the models continued to multiply as 727, 737.

As with Airbus coding, Boeing coding is not that short. The Boeing company started to issue special codes to companies that ordered its aircraft. This system started by giving the code 21 to Pan-AM, which made the first order with 21 aircraft to Boeing. Later, two-digit numbers were started to be allocated to customers. And these numbers were given codes from A0 to Z9, then codes from 0A to 9Z and codes from AA to ZZ, and continued. Let’s explain this with an example. The second version of the B777-2F2 Boeing aircraft code B777 type aircraft was delivered to Turkish airlines (F2 is the Turkish Airlines code on Boeing) or B747-121 B747 type aircraft is first version and delivered to Pan-Am company.

Finally the following question may come to your mind. What happens if these planes are sold or leased to another company? The codes of the planes continue in these cases. As a result, the aircraft continues its life by preserving the code of its first company, no matter which company it works in its commercial life.

References and Further Reading

In this article, we explored the intriguing world of aircraft naming conventions, specifically focusing on Airbus’ A3XX and Boeing’s 7X7 systems. To delve deeper into this topic, here are some helpful resources:

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