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Why Are Norrow Bodies So Narrow?

Tue Sep 11, 2001 2:55 am

This may seem silly, but why doesn't Boeing or Airbus increasae the beam of a narrow body airplanes? I think it would allow for more cargo space, more seat comfort and larger overhead-bin space. Plus a larger wingbox would accomodate more fuel for greater range. Yet all narrow bodies seem it be the same width, one established with the 707 in the 50's.
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RE: Why Are Norrow Bodies So Narrow?

Tue Sep 11, 2001 3:22 am

They did, they are called wide bodys!

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RE: Why Are Norrow Bodies So Narrow?

Tue Sep 11, 2001 4:06 am

Money, money, money!

A fuselage which both:
1. takes the stresses of a "not so nice" landing...
2. takes the stresses of pressurization umpteen thousand times...
that's some quite heavy structure. With a considerably wider diameter two things would happen.
1. It would produce more drag
2. It would become much heavier.

Both would mean less payload and less range and more fuel burn, everything else equal.

What you are asking for could just as well be one seat less on each row. That's what they do when you pay a more expensive ticket.

On some planes - for instance the BAe 146/Avro RJ the airlines seem in doubt how many seats they can put on a row, also in Y-class. Some put in 5 and some 6.

My latest flight was on a Crossair ARJ with 5 abreast seating. I looked at it and wondered how the hell some airlines put in 6 abreast seating in that small plane, but they do. That's torture.

If it had been 6 abreast, and if it had been a business trip, then I'm sure that I could have found at least a dozen Danish national laws for protection of worker's working environment which would have prohibited me taking that ride.

But it was a joy ride, and since it was 5 abreast seating and quite comfortable leather seats at quite generous pitch, then it was in fact pure joy.

I chose Swissair/Crossair because they in this respect are favourable to the competition. With my 6'2" that's not unimportant.

Go and do the same. Let the airlines, who operate sardine tins, fly empty planes. And let the good airlines do business with you.

Cheers, Preben Norholm
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RE: Why Are Norrow Bodies So Narrow?

Tue Sep 11, 2001 4:47 pm

Some Operators desire an efficient, low passenger aircraft for some routes.

The end result is a "narrow bodied" aircraft.

Imagine you are a flight planner with a variety of aircraft in your fleet. Some of your markets are high density in passenger volume. You would understandably put your higheast volume aircaft on these routes. Now your success is based on serving some smaller market cities that serve as spokes to your hub system.

These spokes on a regular basis only provide 150 passengers on a regular basis. As a flight planner you understand this and put a more efficient aircaft on this route, NARROW BODIED AIRCRAFT, after all, you're just trying to make a profit.
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RE: Why Are Norrow Bodies So Narrow?

Tue Sep 11, 2001 9:34 pm

I think part of the question was "why long narrow aircraft instead of shorter wider ones".
Capacity does not come into play then, but drag does.
why then not use only narrowbodies?
Well, there comes a point after which increasing the length of the fuselage is no longer efficient, either due to increased drag or because so much extra strenthening is needed that the penalties in weight and internal space become prohibitive.
For aircraft that need to carry large amounts of cargo (or large items) a widebody is also a more logical choice (this includes large amounts of people to some extend) as loading and unloading can be done more efficiently when using a shorter fuselage.
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RE: Why Are Norrow Bodies So Narrow?

Wed Sep 12, 2001 2:00 pm

All aircraft serve for a certain purpose, and some routes don't need widebodies- The 717, 727, 737, 757 are all skinny becuase they serve on routes that don't have many pax, which don't carry much luggage with them, and so on... They serve for what they were made to do, and besides, it would be boring if every aircraft was a 747 or an A380 or something...
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RE: Why Are Norrow Bodies So Narrow?

Tue Sep 18, 2001 1:24 am

Well, the same question would be -- why 2x3x2 (767), not 4x3? I think the answer would be the windowseat in the side with four seats (not much people would like to go throw 3 peep to aisle). Correct me if I am wrong.
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RE: Why Are Norrow Bodies So Narrow?

Fri Sep 21, 2001 4:57 am

Well I'm back. For obvious reasons this was not on my priority list for a while.

The thought I had was why not make a narrowbody aircraft say just eight inches wider in beam. I can't imagine this would effect drag that much would it? If a plane the size of a 737 was that much wider I would think you could make the interior wider. Wider seats maybe armrests for the center seats. An extra seat on a High density arrangement per row. And again a larger wingbox would mean more fuel and range. I know why airlines use narrowbodies PHL is all 737's and A320's. thats why when I'm on one I can't help think the plane would be more comfortable, have more cabin stowage space, and greater cargo capacity if the plane was simply a little bit wider.
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RE: Why Are Norrow Bodies So Narrow?

Fri Sep 21, 2001 11:10 pm

Airbus ads say that their 32x are the widest narrowbodies around. I looked up the interior cabin width figures :

737-200 : 3,56m
737-400 : 3,53m
737-700 : 3,4m (<- because of thicker insulation ?)

A32x : 3,7m

The only plane I've been on of the above is a A320, but maybe some of you guys can comment on whether one can notice a difference or not.


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RE: Why Are Norrow Bodies So Narrow?

Sat Sep 22, 2001 12:31 am


Yes, that extra six inches of cabin width (and also several inches of max. cabin ceiling height too, btw) seems to be among the top reasons why passenger preference is claimed to be higher for the 320 family over any Boeing narrowbodies.

But in this age of JetBlue and many carriers having PTVs on narrowbodies, it seems like a "boringly-small" or even claustrophobic cabin wouldn't be as much of an issue, even on flights in the 4-6 hour range.

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RE: Why Are Norrow Bodies So Narrow?

Sat Sep 22, 2001 2:47 am

Talking to a friend at NWAirlink. I found that Airbus is wider by several inches. which leads me back to my original question. Why doesn't Boeing increase the beam? I have found that pax do favor the A320 family for comfort and the bin space is huge at least on UA. Boeing seems to be making the 73's longer but is that nessasaraly better? On the other had cince Airbus narrow bodies are more comfortable with just a few more inches of space why not increase it a few more?
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RE: Why Are Norrow Bodies So Narrow?

Sun Sep 23, 2001 4:53 am

UALPHLCS -- Why doesn't Boeing increase the beam? ..On the other hand since Airbus.. why not increase it a few more?

Yabbut this is a major undertaking, it'd be like making a whole new plane. Almost all the big structural parts wouldn't fit anymore, and they'd probably have to re-work the wings and stabilizers, so more new parts there as well, even for just a few inches fuselage diameter upgrade. And, in this age of 'aircraft families' for fleet commonality, the mod would have to be done across the whole line. So many billions of dollars of development costs, to make all those (essentially) new planes, get 'em flight tested, certified, then marketed.

So maybe the next rev. of small Boeings and Airbuses product lines. Ten years or so down the road, perhaps?
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RE: Why Are Norrow Bodies So Narrow?

Tue Sep 25, 2001 8:27 am

I fly on NW and CO a lot, so I have lots of opportunities to compare 737 vs. A319/320 in terms of cabin width, and it seems that in coach, they feel about the same. The aisle on an airbus is wider, for sure, but the seats are just as narrow. Also, I think the widest point on an Airbus is below your seat (circular fuselage), while on a Boeing it's somewhere near your shoulders, leading to the impression that both feel about the same width wise. A 6" wider cabin does you no real good if the seats are still as narrow as they are, and they are quite narrow indeed. I have to play armrest wars as often on an Airbus as I do on a Boeing.


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