Head-2-Head Feature XV: Small(er) Regional Jetliners
By Ron Blehm
I have, as you may known, been simming for quite awhile. I got back into simming after a long absence so that I could fly the 727 but since 2003 and the inception of "The Flight of the Month Club" I have found myself flying everything under the sun. As we have noted in this Head-2-Head series, some of what I have flown I have really enjoyed, others not so much but over the past two years I have really focused on and loved flying the EMB-190s. I think, after fifteen years, I can say that this has become MY AIRCRAFT of choice for almost any sim occasion.
So there I was on a warm June afternoon, happily flying my E190 around New Zealand, when I heard/saw a Frontier A318 fly overhead followed by a Southwest 737; both on downwind for KPDX. I got to wondering how the 4-abreast Embraer compared into smaller airports to the typical 6-abreast airliners and this new Head-2-Head Challenge was born.
The first stop was the internet (does anyone remember when we didn't have that?). Embraer says that they are a "niche producer" providing modern jetliner capacity in a lighter, more fuel-efficient, fly-by-wire aircraft. "Our aircraft can operate at airports where even the smaller Boeing and Airbus planes are just too heavy."
So I was off to do some research, by the numbers:
So indeed the E-190 is the lightest of all its competitors but it also hauls the fewest passengers (more weight than the A318 however). Its wingspan is the smallest but it is the longest on the list. (My wife calls it, and the Q400, a "pencil plane"). If we were to look strictly at weight and span certainly the Embraer company argument would seem valid.
I figured we should look a bit deeper into the statistics of these aircraft.
|Lbs x range/100k||1050||1023.5||1408-3872||1544|
The newer E-190 has less range than the Airbus but still wins the efficiency score - maybe that's why Airbus has sold less than 100 of the version? Nothing compares to Boeing however! (The 737-700 sports a range comparable to the 757 but there is a nine-fuel-tank version that flies over 5,500 miles! Is there anyone out there who really wants to spend 11 hours in the back of a Boeing Cattlecar?)
Well, what better way to compare aircraft than a Flightsim Head-to-Head Challenge?
Challenge One = Range Into A Short Runway
For this challenge I took an empty aircraft and loaded full fuel tanks. Then I set in a 930-mile route to Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles where we'd face a 2,971-foot landing. I used 80% N1 for the TOGA setting and set cruise for an unrealistic 19,000 feet.
Take-Off: The A318 used all 6,500 feet to get to 120 knots.
The 737 used about 5,000 feet.
The 735 used about 4,500 feet.
The E190 used about 4,000 feet.
Time to Cruise: The 737 took 18 minutes.
The 735 took 17.8 minutes.
The A318 took 17.5 minutes.
The E190 took 17 minutes flat.
Fuel Burned: The 735 burned 24,287 pounds which is 68.2%
The A318 burned 18.955 which was 44.8%
The 737 burned 18,572 which was 40.7%
The E190 burned 14,828 which was 50.1%
Range at FL190: The 735 would have been 1,364
The A318 would have been 2,076
The 737 would have been 2,285
The E190 would have been 1,856
The 737 failed to stop even with autobrakes and full reverse; it continued off the end of the runway and down the cliff (picture above, left)!
The A318 stopped with the nose wheel off the pavement (picture above, right)
The 735 stopped just beyond the last turn off and had to taxi to the end (picture below, left).
The E190 stopped just at the last turn off and was able to taxi to parking (picture below, right).
Time: The 737-700 held its fast speed during descent and crashed at 19:08
The 737-500 arrived at 19:18
The A318 and E190 both arrived at 19:20
Let's start with the failure. The -700 was the heaviest at departure, 128,565. It had a screaming fast descent and failed to stop at all even with autobrakes.
The A318 was the next heaviest at 126,822 and really it would have needed a TUG to get back onto the pavement after landing. The A318 also took a ridiculous amount of time to reach 120 knots at 80% N1. The 735 and E190 were closely matched but I may have give the nod to the Embraer. (Remember, I've been flying that a lot over the past two years so I may be a bit biased as to the feel and timing of things.)