The 717 and A220, Part 2: Operational economics comparison

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By Bjorn Fehrm


December 10, 2020, © Leeham News: Last week, we introduced the Boeing 717 and its closest replacement size-wise, the Airbus A220-100. Delta, a major 717 customer, is accelerating the replacement of the 717 with the A220-100 under the pressure of the COVID19 pandemic.

We use our performance model to understand why. What are the gains when going from the 717 to an A220-100?

Delta Airlines Boeing 717-2BD landing at LaGuardia. Source: Wikipedia.

  • The 717 version of the DC-9 architecture produced a rugged and well-liked short-haul airliner. It's five abreast cabin is preferred over the six-abreast Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.
  • It's size-wise in the same 115 seat bracket as the 15 years younger Airbus A220-100. It's 40 years old airframe architecture holds up well compared to the modern A220.
  • The engines of the two are also 15 years apart. But the Rolls-Royce BR715 of the 717 was originally designed to fly on fast business jets, necessitating a low by-pass ratio design. This is a handicap when used on lower speed airliners. It shows against the high bypass ratio Pratt & Whitney PW1500G of the A220.

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