The Embraer E190-E2 vs Airbus A220 – What Plane Is Best?

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There has been a lot of debate recently in our comment sections about which manufacturer builds the better small jet aircraft, Embraer or Bombardier. In fact, with Airbus buying up the A220 program, and Boeing following on their heels with 80% of Embraer’s commercial jets, this market is ready to erupt.

Delta will soon be the first U.S. airline to fly the A220-100. Photo: Airbus

Some airlines are wrestling with this question themselves, such as Qantas (who last year revealed that they are choosing between these aircraft) and Delta (who recently increased their order of A220 aircraft).

Qantas
Qantas’ plan for new aircraft over the next decade. Notice their consideration of the A220 and Embraer E2 Source: Qantas

So why not compare the two headlining aircraft head to head and see which one comes out on top: the Embraer E190-E2 vs Airbus A220.

How will we compare these two aircraft?

As we have done with other articles, we will pretend that we are an airline that is deciding between the two options. This means we will be looking at what makes economic sense and will generate as much profit as possible, rather than what is simply the best passenger experience, easiest for the crew to fly or just a prestigious brand.

Additionally, there are multiple variants of each aircraft. To keep this fair, we will be examining the following.

  • Embraer – E190-E2 and E195-E2
  • Airbus – A220-100 and A220-300

There is a smaller variant of the E2, the E175, however, it would not be fair to compare it with a bigger Airbus plane. Additionally, there are rumors of a further stretch of the A220 (dubbed the A220-500) but that places it into 737 competition territory (which you can read all about here)

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A220
The A220-100 vs E190-E2.

Without further ado, let us dive in.

Embraer E2 family vs Airbus A220 family

Embraer Airbus
Model E190-E2 E195-E2 A220-100 A220-300
Cockpit crew Two Two
Seating, 2-class 96 (12J  + 84Y) 120 (12J + 108Y) 108 (8J + 100Y) 130 (12J + 118Y)
Seating, Max (28 in seats) 114 146 133 160
Seat Pitch 31-38 in 31-36 in 28-36 in 28-38 in
Seat Width 18.3 in 18.5-20 inch
Length 36.24 m (118 ft 11 in.) 41.5 m (136.2 ft) 114 ft 9 in / 35.0 m 127 ft 0 in / 38.7 m
Wingspan 33.72 m (110 ft 7.6 in) 35.1 m (115.2 ft) 115 ft 1 in / 35.1 m span
Height 10.95 m (35 ft 11.3 in) 10.9 m (35.8 ft) 37 ft 8 in / 11.5 m
MTOW 56,400 kg (124,340 lb) 61,500 kg (135,584 lb) 134,000 lb / 60,781 kg 149,000 lb / 67,585 kg
Takeoff Runway 1,450 m (4,760 ft) 1,970 m (6,463 ft) 4,800 ft / 1,463 m 6,200 ft / 1,890 m
Landing Runway 1,240 m (4,070 ft) 1,412 m (4,633 ft) 4,550 ft / 1,387 m 4,950 ft / 1,509 m
Max. Payload 13,700 kg (30,203 lb) 16,150 kg (35,605 lb) 33,350 lb / 15,127 kg 41,250 lb / 18,711 kg
OEW 33,000 kg (72,752 lb) 77,650 lb (35,221 kg) 81,750 lb (37,081 kg)
Fuel capacity 13,500 kg / 29,760 lb 13,300 kg / 29,321 lb 38,875 lb / 17,630 kg 37,950 lb / 17,213 kg
Range 3,250 nmi (6,020 km) 2,600 nmi (4,800 km) 3,400 nm (6,297 km) 3,350 nm (6,204 km)
Engine 2× Pratt & Whitney PW1919G/21G/22G/23G 2× Pratt & Whitney PW1500G
Thrust (×2) 19,000–23,000 lbf (85–102 kN) 21,000-23,300 lbf / 93.4-103.6 kN
Speed Mach 0.82 (473 kn; 876 km/h) max Mach 0.82 (470 kn; 871 km/h) max

Already by looking above we can see that there are some very close calls, so let’s go into a bit more detail and see what we can discover.

Passengers

From first glance, it looks like that Airbus has the Embraer aircraft beat. After all, Airbus has the slightly bigger plane with the A220-300 and thus must be better for passengers right?

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Not exactly. Both the Embraer jets have more premium passengers than the A220-100 (12 vs 8) and only the A220-300 can match them. Everyone knows that premium passengers make more money from an airline, and four extra business tickets might be worth 10 economy tickets, if not more.

The interior of the Delta A220
The A220-100 features a 2-3 arrangement of seating, which allows for wider seats

Plus, look at those default seat pitches on the Embraer aircraft, 31 vs 28 inches. Whilst we don’t want to dive into specific measurements (in literal inches), that little bit of extra room in economy would be a blessing for those over 6 feet tall.

Overall, the E190 has the A220-100 beat in terms of passengers. Whilst the A220 can carry a few more economy passengers (12) the extra premium passengers will easily mean more money for the airline. Plus more room on board for those economy passengers is always a nice comfort.

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But if we were to include the A220-300 vs the E195, the larger A220 scrapes by with those extra 10 passengers (they both have equal premium passenger seats).

Winner: E190-E2 / Draw, depending on how you look at it

Embraer Sale
A E190-E2 during testing. Source: Embraer

Range

We know that the A220 has bigger fuel tanks than the Embraer but how does this translate into distance?

The A220-100 is very similar to the E2 in range, going an extra 150km. However, if we compare the A220-300 with the E195 we can see that the fuel and bigger thrust translates well into longer distances. The E195 drops the ball and get beaten by the A220-300 by around 1,400 km.

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If you are an airline looking for a versatile aircraft with good passenger capacity, then why not choose the A220-300?

Winner: A220-300 

How much do they cost?

The following unit costs for each aircraft can be found online:

  • A220 Family
    • A220-100: US$ 79.5 million
    • A220-300: US$ 89.5 million
  • E2 Family
    • E190-E2: US$ 53.6 million
    • E195-E2: US$ 60.4 million

As you can see, the E2 family of aircraft is far cheaper to buy than the Airbus. However, Airbus does have a larger ‘production’ scale and thus might be able to drop the price. They might be able to drop the price by so much that they pretty much give the aircraft to you at cost, something that is rumored to be the reason Delta has so many A220s on order.

In terms of orders, the A220 is far more popular, with almost double the E2 family of aircraft (537 orders vs 260 orders). But again, we don’t know if these airlines actually paid market price for these aircraft, or if they got a very special deal (perhaps when they bought some A350’s they threw in some A220’s as a bonus; wouldn’t that be lovely!)

British Airways A220
The A220 could be a logical choice for BA to operate out of London City Airport. Photo: Airbus

Which is best?

After looking at all the various factors, it becomes clear that neither company is best.

The E190 beats the A220-100, but the A220-300 beats the E195. When it comes to technicals, I think we can agree that it’s a draw. But if you are looking to buy and want to get bang for your buck, the newer E2 range of aircraft might be just what you are looking for.

If you have enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our other comparison articles:

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