Boeing 767 vs. Airbus A320: How Do They Compare?

The 767 and A320 are both twin-engine aircraft, but that is perhaps where the similarities end. The 767 is a significantly larger and heavier aircraft than the A320. Having entered into service in 1982 compared to A320’s 1988, it is also the older of the two.

In this article, I’ll compare these two aircraft from a number of different perspectives. So, let’s see how the 767 and the A320 fare against each other in terms of size, seating capacity, range, orders, and more.

Boeing 767 vs. Airbus A320: How Do They Compare?

History

The Airbus A320 narrow-body twinjet family first flew commercially more than 30 years ago in 1988. The aircraft received a new lease of life in December 2010, when Airbus announced the A320neo (new engine option), entering service in 2016. Once the A320neo was introduced, older A320 versions became known as the A320ceo (current engine option).

With more efficient engines and other efficiency improvements, the A320neo provides improved fuel economy compared to previous A320 variants.  The new engine technology available on the neo aircraft also provides airlines with lower operating costs and increased range. Additionally, the neo engines are quieter, improving travel comfort in the aircraft cabin.

The first A320 airframes to be manufactured were classified as A320-100s. Only around twenty A320-100s were produced before Airbus began to roll out A320-200s. The A320-200 offered increased fuel capacity and increased range compared to the A320-100.

The A320 variants and their first in-service years are shown in the table below:

Aircraft Model Entry into Service
A320-100 1988
A320-200 1989
A320neo 2016

Airbus A320-100

The 767 was the first Boeing widebody aircraft to be designed for two flight crew members. First orders for the aircraft were placed in 1978 and the type first went into service in 1982. The passenger versions of the 767 are no longer in production, with the last such airframe rolling out in 2014. After 2012, all 767 orders have been for the freighter and tanker versions of this aircraft, with FedEx being the major freighter customer.

Designed to replace the market at the time occupied by aircraft such as the aging 707, Douglas DC-8, Lockheed L1011 Tristar, and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, five passenger models, the 767 freighter which is based on the 767-300ER fuselage, and the 767 military tanker which is based on the 767-200ER (the KC-46 designated as the 767-2C in Boeing’s order book data) were developed over time.

In 1985, the 767 was ETOPS certified allowing it to fly regular routes across the Atlantic Ocean.

The main 767 variants and their first in-commercial service dates are as follows:

Aircraft Model Type Entry into Service
767-200 Passenger 1982
767-200ER Passenger 1984
767-300 Passenger 1986
767-300ER Passenger 1988
767-400ER Passenger 2000
767-300F Freighter 1995

Boeing 767-300

Dimensions

Let’s take a look at some key physical characteristics and see how these two aircraft measure up against each other.

The 767 variants fall into FAA Airplane Design (ADG) Group IV with wingspans between 36m and 52m:

Aircraft Model Length/ m Wingspan/ m Fuselage Width/ m MTOW/ tonnes
767-200 48.51 47.57 5.03 142.9
767-200ER 179.2
767-300 54.94 158.8
767-300ER 186.9
767-400ER 61.37 51.92 204.1

The A320 variants fall into FAA ADG Group III with wingspans between 24m and 36m:

Aircraft Model Length/ m Wingspan/ m Fuselage Width/ m MTOW/ tonnes
A320ceo 37.57 35.80 3.95 78.0
A320neo 79.0

In all respects, the 767 is a significantly larger and heavier aircraft than the A320.

Boeing 767-400

Range

The ranges of the 767 variants are shown in the table below:

Aircraft Model Range
767-200 3,900nm (7,200km)
767-200ER 6,590nm (12,200km)
767-300 3,900nm (7,200km)
767-300ER 5,980nm (11,0870km)
767-400ER 5,625nm (10,415km)
767-300F 3,255nm (6,030km)

Whilst the 767 was originally targeted at hub and point-to-point carriers operating short- to mid-range transcontinental routes, its later 180-minute ETOPS certifications allowed it to operate intercontinental routes, including transatlantic routes, boosting sales.

The ranges of all of the A320 variants are similar at around 3,400nm. All A320 variants are ETOPS certified for 180 minutes since 2004 (EASA) and 2006 (FAA). ETOPS 180 minutes certification opens up new route possibilities for these narrowbody aircraft such as London – New York, Los Angeles – Honolulu, and Seoul – Darwin.

The ranges of the A320 variants are below those of all of the 767 passenger variants, and are shown in the table below:

Aircraft Model Range
A320ceo 3,350nm/6,200km with sharklets
A320neo 3,400nm/6,300km

Airbus A320neo

Seat Capacity

The 767’s official seat numbers from Boeing vary by variant and number of cabin classes. The 767-200 variants range from 174 (3-class) to 245 seats (1-class), the 767-300 variants range from 210 to 290 seats, and the 767-400 variants range from 243 to 409 seats.

In practice, actual seat numbers vary significantly by airline and depend on their seating standards, number of classes, and whether premium classes are fitted-out with lie-flat seats. Based on my research I conclude that 767-300s with two-class cabins typically have around 230 seats.

The twin-aisle 767 typically has seven seats abreast in economy class (2-3-2), six or seven seats abreast in premium economy class (2-2-2, 2-3-2), and four to six seats abreast in business class (1–⁠2–⁠1, 2-1-2, 2-2-2).

Airbus’ typical 2-class and maximum seating capacities for the A320 variants are shown in the table below.

Aircraft Typical 2-Class Seating Capacity Maximum Seating Capacity
A320ceo 140 – 170 180
A320neo 150 – 180 194

In practice, there is significant variety around these numbers as airlines have fitted out these aircraft in 1-class, 2-class, and 3-class configurations. In a small number of premium cabins, there are lie-flat seats which reduce overall seat density.

Looking at a variety of airlines operating A320 aircraft, actual fitted-out seat numbers typically vary as follows:

Aircraft 1-class 2-class 3-class
A320 168 – 188 144-186 150-164

The single-aisle A320 typically offers six seats across each aisle (3-3) in economy and premium economy classes. Where business class is offered, the typical seating layout offers four seats per row (2-2).

Airbus A320-200

Customers and Orders

Boeing 767 deliveries to the end of June 2023 totaled 1,280 aircraft and, of these, the split between the various 767 variants is as follows:

  • 767-2C: 73
  • 767-200: 128
  • 767-200ER: 121
  • 767-300: 104
  • 767-300ER: 583
  • 767-300F: 233
  • 767-400ER: 38

To date, the 767-300ER accounts for 46% of all 767 deliveries. At the end of June 2023, Boeing had 112 unfulfilled orders for the 767, 47 of which were for the 767-300F and 65 for the 767-2C.

Adding deliveries and unfulfilled orders together, the 767-300ER is the most popular 767 variant with a total of 583 aircraft, representing 42% of all 767 deliveries and unfulfilled orders combined at the end of June 2023. Interestingly, the second most popular 767 variant is the 767-300F with a total of 280 deliveries and unfulfilled orders at the end of June 2023 (20% of all 767 deliveries and unfulfilled orders).

In total, the 767 deliveries and unfulfilled orders at the end of June 2023 were 1,392 aircraft (1,280 deliveries and 112 unfulfilled orders).

As of the end of June 2023, an incredible total of 9,070 A320 aircraft have been ordered, of which 6,509 (72%) have been delivered. The majority of this order backlog is for A320neo aircraft as the vast majority of A320ceo orders have now been delivered. Between the end of March 2023 and the end of June 2023, a total of 318 orders were placed for the A320neo.

Below is the number of orders and deliveries for the A320ceo and A320neo received by Airbus as of the end of June 2023:

  • 4,752 of 4,763 A320ceos delivered
  • 1,757 of 4,307 A320neos delivered

You can see that almost all A320ceo orders have been delivered (99.8%) and the A320 order backlog is mainly for the A320neo (40.8% of orders delivered).

There are 26 organizations that have ordered more than 100 A320 aircraft. The top customer is India’s low-cost airline Indigo with 565 orders (270 of which, or 48%, have been delivered).

767 vs. A320: Summary

Unsurprisingly, the 767 and the A320 are two very different aircraft. The widebody 767s are longer, heavier, and have greater wingspans than all of the narrowbody A320s.

The narrowbody A320 came only shortly after the widebody 767 but continues to outlive the 767 which is no longer in mainstream production (apart from its freighter and tanker versions). In contrast, the A320 is in full production in the form of the A320neo. There is a large order backlog for the A320neo meaning that the A320 will be gracing our skies for decades to come. In contrast, the number of 767s in airline fleets is declining rapidly.

There is, however, one key similarity between these two aircraft. Both are twinjets that have benefited commercially from ETOPS certification allowing airlines to deploy these aircraft on intercontinental routes.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Get Your FREE "Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank" Guide

No, I am not going to tell you how to fly in first class and sip Dom Perignon for free…

But, I am going to introduce you to a couple of ways you can experiment with to try a business class flight without having to spend thousands of dollars.

How Can I Help You?