Airbus? Boeing? Tip on How to Identify Aircraft Models

“Dad! What is the name of that airplane?”

A child going overseas for the first time in her life asked her dad this question, eyes wide open with wonder. Outside the windows of the gate, many different types of airplanes are preparing to take off and soar through the air. Her dad is caught off guard by the question he has never thought of before.

You may be able to differentiate the many different car models on the road with ease, but airplane models are confusing. For some reason, they feel like something only “nerds” would know.

Although they look similar, if you look at them closely, airplanes actually have different names and features. You don’t have to be an expert to be able to differentiate between the various airplane models. All you need to know is a few basic things! In today’s post, we would like to provide some specific tips on how to differentiate between airplane models!

What do “A” and “B” mean in airplane names?

A380, A350, B747, B777… what do “A” and “B” mean exactly? They are the first initials of the world’s two largest aircraft manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing. “A” means an airplane made by Airbus and “B” means it comes from Boeing. As the two companies account for 70-80% of the aircraft market, you can say that most airplanes belong to either company.

Boeing began 50 years earlier than Airbus. Boeing, which started out in the US in 1916, has become the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer. Airbus is a multinational aircraft manufacturer, which different European aircraft manufacturers launched as a consortium in 1970 to compete with American companies like Boeing. Since then, the two companies have been fiercely competing in the aircraft market for the past 50 years.

Throughout this long competition, the aircrafts from the two companies began to show some differences in detail. If you compare them and learn their differences, you may find yourself becoming an airplane expert! Let’s find out what these differences are!

Double-deck aircrafts can be differentiated by the number of seats! (A380 vs. B747)

To start, remember the two representative double-deck aircraft models, A380 and B747! How can we differentiate these double-deck airplanes that are exactly the same? Let me tell you an easy way to tell the two models apart. Like the photo above, if there are seats across the 2nd floor, it is A380.

A380 is nicknamed the “whale jet” for its appearance that is similar to a giant whale. As it boasts a wide indoor cabin space, it is equipped with various amenities like a wine bar and shower, thus giving it another nickname, “hotel in the sky.”

Meanwhile, B747 only has seats on the front part of the 2nd floor, unlike A380 which has seats across the 2nd floor. B747, one of the top two long-distance passenger jets along with A380, is so famous that it is called the “queen of the sky.” It is one of the most historic airplanes as it has served as Boeing’s flagship large long-distance passenger jet for a long time.

These two models have not only different seat layouts on their 2nd floors, but they also have different winglets, the small vertical wings attached to the tip of main wings. While A380’s winglets have a vertical, up-and-down appearance, those of B747 are tilted slightly higher. If you find it difficult to tell the two models apart by winglet, remember one thing. Seats across the 2nd floor means A380, and seats on only a part of the 2nd floor is B747! How’s that? Isn’t it easy?

Differentiating by the cockpit, the face of an airplane (A350 vs. B787)

You have already mastered two aircraft models. Let’s take a look at A350 and B787, the next-generation single-deck aircraft models! What distinguishes the two models is their cockpits.

Those of you who are not interested in airplanes may be hearing the word, “cockpit,” for the very first time. However, this is the first part we see when we look at an airplane. It refers to the pilot’s room, the front tip, or face, of an airplane.

A350’s cockpit consists of six windows and looks like it is wearing round sunglasses. It is nicknamed “raccoon” for the black outline around its cockpit’s windows. There is a reason why A350’s cockpit is unique. It controls temperature and also boasts a light reflecting effect.

Meanwhile, the cockpit of B787 has four windows with pentagonal windows on both ends. Like A350, it is a mid-sized airplane with 440 seats. It employs fuel efficiency and landing distance shortening, and it is often used for mid- and long-distance travel.


Now, we understand the two next-generation airplanes taking off from many runways. The cockpit with six windows forming a smooth shape is A350, while a cockpit with four windows in a slightly sharper shape is B787!

Winglets, the slight difference that determines detail! (A330 vs. B777)

Next, we will learn how to tell them apart by winglet. Winglets are small wings attached to the tip of a main wing. It reduces vortex split by the main wing. As pilots can improve fuel efficiency by reducing drag, it is one of the essential structures on an airplane.


You can easily tell airplane models apart by their winglets. Let’s take a look at the winglets of two long-distance aircrafts, A330 and B777. A330’s winglets look like they go up from the tip of the main wing.

Meanwhile, you cannot see B777’s winglets. If you put winglets on airplanes with long wings like B777, it may cause vibration. In particular, B777X, the latest model of B777, adopts a hinge which allows it to fold its wingtips at the airport and unfold them during flight.


In addition to winglets, the doors are located in different places. Unlike A330, B777 has a separate door around the main wing. Also, the vertical tails at the end and landing gears are also different. I will leave it to you to figure out!

Today, we learned some useful tips for telling different airplanes apart with ease. You may have thought that all airplanes look alike, but now don’t they look completely different? With the tips we talked about today, check out different airplanes in detail to look for their different charms. This will be a new fun way to spend your time at the airport before leaving the country!

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