For aircraft aficionados, the differences between Airbus and Boeing might seem obvious. For the rest, aircraft identification may not be so easy. Boeing and Airbus commercial aircraft have similar looking fuselages, and one might find it difficult to distinguish between them.
In fact, there are no distinct features for Boeing and Airbus. Size and shape vary by generations, sometimes the same model can have different wing designs depending on options.
Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 are the easiest aircraft to distinguish between, and are also the largest commercial aircraft models produced by them. Both aircraft are double decker and are equipped with four engines. Other than these obviously similar features, the similarities are few.
The Boeing 747-400 and the newer 747-8 have an iconic enlarged front fuselage that runs only part-way towards the aft, with the 747-8’s upper deck being longer. The Airbus A380’s upper deck runs the full length of the fuselage from nose to tail section, and winglets are unique among quad engine aircraft. The Boeing 747-8 lacks winglets on its wing tips and is equipped with serrated nacelles for noise reduction.
The Boeing 747-400 has short, angled or canted winglet design, while the Airbus A380 has winglets that are vertical, 90 degrees to the wing surface. The Boeing 747-8 has raked wingtips without winglets. The large rear end of the 747 is also a distinguishing feature for Boeing.
Widebody twin-engine aircraft are not so easy to tell apart. The Boeing 787’s forward fuselage is rounded, blends and transitions seamlessly into the cockpit. It doesn’t sport winglets, having raked wings which are swept up and angled upwards. The 787 is the only twin jet with a widebody that is equipped with GEnx engines having serrated nacelles, similar to the 747-8.
The Boeing 777 also does not feature winglets and its fuselage comes to square end towards the rear. The 777 has six wheels for each of its main landing gear. The Boeing 767 has special blended winglets that curve up with an L shape, however, not all Boeing 767’s feature this.
The Airbus A330 and A330 neo can be distinguished by smooth curved, canted winglets with no sharp angles, similar to the A220.
The winglet design is similar to the Boeing 747, however, the 747 can easily be identified without confusion between the two. The A330 neo features a black frame around its cockpit windows.
The A350’s winglets curve a little more upwards, and the dark border around the cockpit is not seen with Boeing aircraft.