The Airbus A220-300 Vs The Embraer 195-E2 – What Plane Is Best?

Last year, JetBlue had to make a choice to replace their aging Embraer E190 fleet. Would they go with the newer Embraer 195 or switch to the exciting new entrant to the market, the Airbus A220?

Many other carriers are facing the same choice. Qantas is looking to replace its regional domestic fleet (some of which are older than this author), and start-up airlines are looking for creative aircraft to fill gaps in the market dominated by the big three.

A220
A220-300 (Left) vs Embraer E195-E2 (Right). Photo: Simpleflying.com

Airbus A220-300 information was sourced from the Airbus website.

Embraer E195-E2 information was sourced from the Embraer website.

Why is this choice significant?

Well, let’s look at the A220 first. Originally it was called the C-series, a new jet aircraft from small plane (and many other things) manufacturer, Bombardier.

It was going to revolutionize the industry, a new way of flying in an aircraft built from the ground up with today’s know-how, not built from a 50-year-old design (cough, cough, 737 MAX 8).

But its sale was stopped dead in its tracks, as Boeing filed an anti-competitive injunction against the company (you can see how the A220 compares to the 737 here). For Bombardier to sell the aircraft in the USA (obviously a huge market), they would have to sell each unit at more than the list price… well over the possible cost of multiple 737 aircraft.

In steps Airbus. They bought 51% of the C-series, renamed it the A220 and started to build/complete construction at their Mobile Alabama facility. The A220 was now ‘American Made’ and free to be sold as a domestic product.

They had the means and now had Boeing in their sights.

Not to be outdone, Boeing looked at the market and saw another aircraft company building a rival to Bombardier/Airbus – Embraer. Quicky, Boeing signed an agreement with Embraer to take control of its commercial aircraft and start to sell it as part of the Boeing line up.

With both Boeing and Airbus now having small commercial planes (under 150 seats) on their books, it was time for them to go head to head.

The Embraer E195-E2
The Embraer E195-E2. Image Source: Embraer

What are the key differences between the aircraft?

The two aircraft that we will be looking at today are the A220-300 and the E195-E2. We will be examining them from a point of view of an airline, looking for an aircraft to fill in our domestic regional routes.

Here are the key statistics in one table.

A220-300 E195-E2
Passengers @ 28 inches of pitch 160 seats 146 seats
Length 38.7m 41.5m
Range 5,920km 4,815 km
Fuel 17,726 kg 13,690 kg
Cost $89.5 million USD $60.4 million USD

Passengers

Looking at passengers we can see that the A220 can carry more than the E195-E2 in a maximum configuration. At a more generous 32″ of leg room, that number is still 141 passengers. Simply put, the A220 is better at carrying more paying customers.

Embraer
The E195-E2 seat configurations. Photo: Embraer

 

Winner: A220-300

What about passenger experience?

Before we move onto the next category, we should discuss passenger experience. By all reports, the A220 is actually configured with plenty of generous leg room, great cabin humidity and plenty of modern comforts. There is even a window in the toilet.

The Embraer E195-E2, on the other hand, has a staggered seating in business class, passengers are always in rows of 2 (not 3 like the A220) and there are configurations for first, business and economy cabins all on one flight.

Range

Looking at the raw numbers, we can see that the A220-300 can easily fly further than the E195-E2.

Embraer
The range of the E195-E2 and E2 family. Photo: Embraer

It’s range is more than 1000 km greater, and thus it is a clear winner.

A220
The range of the A220. Source: Airbus

Winner: A220-300

Fuel capacity / efficiency

Did you know that both planes use the same engine? Specifically, they both use the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1500G geared turbofan engines.

Thus, how they burn fuel and power their aircraft really comes down to construction and engineering. The fact that the A220 can fly further on the same engine is rather telling… but the E195-E2 carries less fuel. And fuel is money.

Winner: E195-E2

Cost

Looking at the numbers above, you can see that the A220 is $20 million more than the E195-E2. This means for every three A220s you buy, you could have bought an extra E195-E2.

These days, airlines are sliding towards smaller plans that fly more frequently, giving passengers more choice when it comes to time.

A220
The A220-300 has a similar seating capacity to the A319neo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Now, the actual cost gets a little hazy. For example, it is likely that the A220 didn’t cost Delta a thing (just the costs rather than profit) just to be a launch customer in America. So take these figures with a grain of salt.

Winner: E195-E2

Which is best?

Looking at the above, we have painted a very clear picture.

On one side, we have the A220-300. It flies further with more passengers. A profit maker and a perfect aircraft for a full-service carrier that wants the very best.

But on the other side, we have the E195-E2. It is cheaper to run and cheaper to fly. It carries almost the same number of passengers, and it can fly 4/5th of the same distance. If you are a low-cost carrier, then the E2 is perfect for you.

JetBlue-New-Member

As for JetBlue… they went with the Airbus A220. In the end, they felt it was the right aircraft for them.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. 

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John Smith

This article has been poorly researched on several aspects, and severely misrepresents the dispute raised by Boeing and the subsequent dismissal of said dispute. The reasons for the Airbus acquisition of a controlling interest of the program are also mainly incorrect. Furthermore, the aircraft do not use the same engine – the E2 family alone doesn’t even use a single model of engine. They’re all from the same family of engines, but the PW1500G, 1700 and 1900 are demonstrably not the same – the fact that they have different names should be a hint. Do your research and fact-check your… Read more »

Kaden

Excellent article Nicholas! Thanks!

Sylvain

I worked at BBD for a decade and saw a lot of things that the public doesn’t know. As for the C series it has a dark and dirty history with plenty of taxpayer lifelines thrown in. Even the management there was always afraid of Embraer, Mitsubishi, Honda, Gulfstream as competition. Personally I prefer Embraer from their products to their operations. That’s why their shares have been climbing wile Bombardier are worth single digit for two decades.

Frank

This article is a re-hash of a similar article Simple Flying put out awhile ago. But the same holds true today – as it did back then; The E2 jets and the A220 are not competing for the same market. The E-Jets are a series of regional jets, limited in their weight and range. The only one that comes close to the A220’s is the 195, of which there are orders for 121. Total orderbook for the series is 168, as Skywest cannot take delivery of the 175-E2, because of the scope clause. The A220 was recently granted ETOPS 180,… Read more »

Michel

The fuel efficiency argument is the most thoughtless one. Haven’t you heard of the concept of passenger mile or passenger km? How much fuel the reservoir can carry is absolutely no indication of efficiency. The relevant question is how much fuel is needed per passenger per distance. Furthermore, you’d have to account for the fuel, differences in fuel for takeoff vs cruise etc to make a full analysis. But as a proxy, take the fuel and divide by the product of range times the number of passengers (and the range should be the range with full passenger load) and you’d… Read more »

Frank

Have no fear, there is an answer for that:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_economy_in_aircraft

About halfway down, there are some sort able tables:

Click on FE per seat and voila:
Regional flights
A220: 2.23L / 100km
E2 195: 2.9L / 100km

Short Haul
A220: 1.85L / 100 km
E2: Not on list

Methinks the A220 is the most fuel efficient plane inn the world…

John

I thought that as well when the author awarded fuel economy to Embraer. Fuel capacity has nothing to do with fuel economy. If I have a bigger fuel tank but use less fuel, I win. Also, the A220 will have extended range options built in in 2020.

Peter Stricker

I, too, like the others below, have some reservations – the article is OK, but highly opinionated and biased. The reference to the MAX was already a red flag, knowing that Embraer will not do well because of their association with Boeing. I have spent my last six years working on the E2 and frankly, I feel slighted.

Joanna Bailey

I don’t think at any point the author raised any parallels between the MAX and the E2, or that Embraer’s future is tainted by its association with Boeing. We’re massive fans of the E2 here at Simple Flying, and this is meant to be a fun article using what we know about the E2 and the A220 with some opinion thrown in to compare the two side by side. In conclusion the author says that the E2 is almost as good as the A220 and an ideal choice for low cost carriers. In what way can this make you feel… Read more »