Will There Ever Be An Airbus A370?

With Airbus wrapping up the A380 program and successfully launching the A350, what’s next for their team of talented engineers and designers?

One possibility is the A370, an aircraft designed for a unique niche market that is expanding across the world. 

Airbus 321neo
The A370 would possibly be an A321XLR stretch. Photo: Simple Flying. Photo: Wikimedia

We love to speculate about different types of possible aircraft here at Simple Flying. Here are a few of our favorites:

Could the A370 be the next Airbus aircraft and what would it look like?

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Note: This article uses a lot of speculation and may have some paradoxical points. If you spot anything that sounds a bit far fetched, do let us know in the comments!

What gap would the A370 fill?

Let’s begin by looking at the current gap in the market. If we were to plot most commercial aircraft available right now, on a passengers by range graph, here’s what it would look like:

Gap in the market
All aircraft plotted passengers x range with the current gap highlighted. Photo: Simple Flying

As you can see, any A370 would have to exist in this gap as to not cannibalize any existing Airbus aircraft sales. Current options that come close to filling the gap, such as the A330neo-800 and Boeing 787-8, as well as proposals like the 787-3 and A350-8, have not been popular with airlines.

Thus perhaps a twin-aisled aircraft is perhaps not what the industry needs. Instead, could the answer be a ‘Super Narrowbody’.

“Whether it is Airbus A330 or Boeing 787, wide-bodies are just too powerful and overly heavy to carry 200-250 passengers on a 1000-2000 km long route. Moreover, operating a wide-body for a short-haul flight means that the aircraft will run out of its resources substantially faster than planned. And repairing a wide-body sometimes calls for a dozen times larger investment than in the narrow-body case“, comments Tadas Goberis, the CEO of AviaAM Leasing to Aviation Pros.

This aircraft could facilitate the ‘more point to point travel and increased frequencies’ business model for airlines.

“Their increased range and efficiency allows them to not only compete in a market once solely dominated by widebodies but to also fulfill a niche that has clear demand,” Gediminas Ziemelis, Chairman of the Board at Avia Solutions Group commented to Aviation Voice.

This would also fill in the gap left by the departure of the Boeing 757, which previously carried up to 290 passengers.

Boeing 757-200 Delta Air Lines
Delta Boeing 757-200 with winglets. Image by Delta.

We would imagine two versions of the A370, the A370-8, and A370-9 (naming conventions, of course, are just for fun). It would fill in a gap for Airbus between the A321LR and the A330neo-800

  • A370-8 – 286 passengers to a range of 5,200 nautical miles
  • A370-9 – 316 passengers to a range of 4,700 nautical miles

Essentially a supersized A321 XLR that has a single aisle but can carry many passengers (including using the extra room to fit in premium customers in business class). It would use the new NEO engine (UltraFan) expected in 2025 and use composite materials to be as light as possible.

The last advantage is that this aircraft could be built quickly and easily using the already acquired knowledge of the A330neo and A321neo series, plus the material and composites used in the A350 program. It would also be cheap to buy, as Airbus would be able to offer a very competitive price vs widebody equivalents.

Where would it fly?

This aircraft would be useful for increasing density on domestic routes, previously served by Boeing 757s and Boeing 767s. It could potentially take on the Boeing 797.

The difference compared to the 797, when it comes to route placement, would be on more niche routes that drive profitability with frequency over capacity. For example:

  • Austin to Vancouver
  • Sydney to Perth
  • Berlin to Nice
The A370 would have an economy section in a 3 – 3 configuration. It would also have room for long haul business class in a single 1 – 1. Photo: American Airlines

Who would buy it?

This aircraft would fill in the following needs for airlines

  • Those who used the Boeing 757 extensively. Such as Delta, who flew 127 of the type.
  • Airlines looking to fill a specific long-haul high capacity niche, like Emirates or Fly Dubai.
  • Low-cost carriers looking for aircraft to fly long haul routes with increased frequency.

The one flaw is that the super narrowbody A370 would not be as suitable for freight as a wide-body A350-8 or A330.

What do you think of this A370 proposal? Let us know in the comments. 

8 comments
  1. Anything that requires more than $10 billion is a mistake, very few new aircraft will ever be built as the costs are just so high, I would guess the A321 NeoNeo++, with new wings and possible new landing gear to accommodate bigger ultrafan engines, derivatives are the way both Boeing and Airbus will make money, not some amazing MOM aircraft that is neither a short haul or long haul,

    1. A370 sounds like MH370 the missing or doomed Malaysian airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. So, Airbus wouldn’t select this Number, I believe.

  2. The problem with the middle of the market segment is finding the right balance between aircraft size and operating economics. For instance, the 767-200 has ~20% higher costs compared to the 757-300 because of it’s wider fuselage. Wider fuselage equals more drag, higher fuel consumption and therefore larger operating costs.

    A narrowbody will always be more efficient than a widebody, but a narrowbody is constrained by fuselage length, e.g. take the A321neo(LR), Airbus can’t extend the fuselage any longer without a significant redesign to prevent tailstrikes. Airbus could create a ‘new’ aircraft with new landing gear, a larger wing and more powerful engines, keeping the A320 series fuselage design albeit longer, for a 250-260 seat 5,000nm range, plugging the gap between the A330neo and A321LR. Alternatively a future clean-sheet A320 series replacement could cover the 180 to 260 seat market, with the A220 covering the lower 100 to 160 seat market.

    Meanwhile, Boeing’s NMA aims to have the capacity and range of a small widebody, with the economics of a large narrowbody. Match this with the benefit of twin-aisle design for more comfort and faster turnaround times, it gives Boeing the edge over a narrowbody design from Airbus.

    N.B. prefer the name ‘A325’ I.e. halfway between the A320 series and the A330 series, if a design keeps the A320 series fuselage.

  3. The diagram is out of date.
    It does not contain the A320/1 Neo + the Boring Max aircraft.
    If you put them in, the gap is a lot smaller.

    IMO, what you need is an A322, which is 3.2 – 4m longer than an A321.
    This would allow 4 or 5 more rows of seats for short haul, or better legroom for all passengers for medium haul.
    A further improved version would have a new wing (and engine) and the ability to fly 5200 nm at 32″ pitch passenger spacing, and say 264 people in short haul configuration. It might weigh 105 tons, fully loaded up.
    If you had a new wing, you could ten fit it to a new composite body in say 5-10 years time for a full replacement for the A320 series.

  4. Your gap is clouded. Old airplanes do not count as existing in the gap or as boundaries for it. You are not far off, however, because the gap in currently offered airplanes is between the smallest 787 and the A321. (The heavy A330 cannot be competitive in the light airplane segment. Airlines will abandon and park the model when their bet on low fuel prices dries up.) In the “New Middle” territory between the 787 and A321 there may not be sufficient room for an Airbus entrant because the principal objective of the Boeing project is to force Airbus into another heavy airplane project. Asian and Australian carriers are already griping about needing freight capability on the NM-A, exactly at a time when the opportunity for passenger-only efficiency is ripe. Is there something wrong with the freighter airplanes on current offer? No. They are not designed for fuel efficiency as the first priority. Freight never flies for free. It makes money at a cost current stomachs can manage.

    I think the A370 model number creates an interesting question, and a problem at the same time. At the moment, the Airbus numbering scheme goes strictly small to large, so A370 would suggest something bigger than the A350, in my mind a direct competitor for the long 777-9. The A350-1000 is a viable alternative only for the short 777-8 model. It would make more sense to rechristen the A330neo as the A340neo (since they were, really the same airplane, same wing, different engines), and use the A330-nfo (new fuselage option) on a carbon composite airplane with same engines as 797 and a big freight hold; sell as many as they can to the Aussies.

  5. In theory, sure. My thing is can you imagine boarding this? Look at current boarding experiences on 757 aircraft. Now make the plane even longer

  6. You took the business case of the B797 and made it for Airbus, I don’t think it’s relevant..
    Moreover, be careful how you write sentences…
    “Thus perhaps a twin-aisled aircraft is perhaps not […]”

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