At our squadron we have an event coming up in which our cadets enter into different competitions as teams. One of those competitions is the aircraft recce (reconnaissance) competition.
As the name implies, this competition involves identifying aircraft from images, silhouettes and partially exposed images. So to prepare the team, we’ve recently been practicing identifying different aircraft. Being a part of the Royal Air Force, the cadets are pretty hot with military aircraft. The problem lies with commercial aircraft, specifically the Airbus and Boeing families.
In this post I provide some guidelines on identifying the differences between various aircraft in the Airbus family of aircraft.
The main differences
The main differences that are easy to spot on Airbus aircraft are the doors, winglets and length of the aircraft. Two of the more difficult aircraft to differentiate between are the A320 and A319.
Similarity: Both have a door at each end of the aircraft, but two small doors over the wing.
Differences: The A319 is a smaller aircraft. This is noticeable from the length of the empennage at the tail end. There is a curve from the fairing to the tip of the tail which on the A319 starts immediately after the fairing. On the A320, there is a distance that is flat after the fairing before the curve to the tail tip starts.
Finally, differentiating between the A320, A319 and the A321 can easily be done by identifying the aircraft with no over-wing doors. The other features though are the same.
These are the ways to identify between these aircraft.
The Airbus A310 and A300
The remaining two aircraft are the A310 and A300. The A300 is the earlier model and can be easily differentiated from the similar A321 by the following characteristics:
- Double bogey undercarriage
- No winglets
- 3 doors
The main differences for the A310 aircraft are:
- 3 doors – the middle one is over the wing
- The aircraft has winglets
The other Airbus family members
To finish off the Airbus recce, we’ll take a quick look at the main differences of the later models in the Airbus family:
A330 – Winglets are ‘shark fin’ style, rather than small double winglets like that of the other aircraft.
A340 – has 4 engines
A380 – 4 engines and is a huge, double decker.
The next post will feature differences between the Boeing families of aircraft.
(All aircraft images originally from Airliners.net)