Today, I am following up to an earlier, similar post https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1388811 where I compared the performance and economics of an A321-200LR to a Boeing B707-320B, which was found interesting by quite a few readers.
For this second round of comparison, I have again chosen a few aircraft that are very different at first sight, but that also show some striking similarities in capacity and range. This comparison is aimed at allowing us to draw conclusions about the progress made in aeronautics over the last 65 years. Or possibly reveal some lack of progress in terms of efficiency gains?
OK, let's dive into the data!
Aircraft: Douglas DC-7C / Convair CV-880 22M / Airbus A220-100
Length: 34.21m / 39.42m / 35.0m
Wingspan: 38.86m / 36.58m / 35.1m
Wing area:152.1m2 / 185.8m2 / 112.3m2
OEW: 33.0t / 42.7t / 35.2t
MTOW: 64.9t / 92.5t / 60.8t
Pax capacity (typical): 105 / 110 / 108
Cruise speed (econ): 353kn / 535kn / 447kn
Range: 4000nm / 3350nm / 2950nm
Fuel consumption: 1350kg/h / 5600kg/h / 1570kg/h
Specific fuel consumption (kg per pax per 100nm): 3.64 / 9.52 / 3.25
Flight crew: 3 / 3 / 2
Looking at the data above, I would point out the following observations:
- The transition from the last generation of piston engines to the first generation of jets caused a huge jump in fuel consumption (factor 2.6)
- The continuous improvement of jet engines, aerodynamics and materials resulted in a dramatic reduction (factor 2.9) in fuel consumption between 1959 and 2013.
- This continuous improvement allows the A220-100 to undercut the specific fuel consumption of the DC-7C by 11% (only!) yet flying less than 100kn (27%) faster.
- I would point out that the price to pay for the speed gain of jets versus pistons was enormous. Had piston engines benefited from a similar improvement than jet engines, this technology might still be interesting, e.g. for cargo applications.
I kindly invite you to share your own observations.