This may have been answered elsewhere, I've tried searching and not found anything, although that might be my searching skills.
Basically, why are there so many numbers when it comes to aircraft types?
When I was a kid, I knew, through my parents, that you had Airbus and ou had Boeing, they were the two main aircraft makers.
Then when I was older I learnt about the numbers, so 727, 737, 747, A320, A330 etc. Although it still confuses me that a 747 is bigger than a 757 but there you go...
Now, at 22, something puzzles me. Why have I seen reference to say, a 737-800 (might even have that wrong) and a -300 say? What's the difference? Same with the A319, A320 and A321 with Airbus. Are there big differences that I, as a passenger would notice? Or is it smaller stuff?
This probably does fall in to the category of stupid questions, and for that, I'm very sorry.
BUT, the basics are that the Boeing numbers started way back and evolved and the marketing was made easy by the alliteration of 707, 727 etc. When the 'next model' came out it was not (like a car) the Mini Mk II or the 'new' Granada XL etc. They added a suffix '-100' and -'200' so 727-100 became the 727-200. In contracted form this became 721 and 722. Which is why the 747-400 is the 744. They used the numbers pretty much in sequence. We won't at the moment, get bogged down in those that have letters such as the 747-SP! That's beacuse, they all have numbers for the type.
The 737 range is very wide and there have been so many models that it does not mean that the larger the suffix the larger the machine!
Airbus started out with a scheme where all their civilian airliners start with a 3 and developed their 'families' of 320 + 321 and 330 + 340 etc. Again, an Airbus 340-600 is a 346.
With the 787, Boeing marketing have been heavily pushing this as the 'dreamliner'. This is probably becaus they saw that the 747 being dubbed 'jumbo' gave brand recognition and a unique understanding. But that was then, the greatest majority of pax have zero idea what machine they are on and there is no need for them to have. The 'dreamliner' is just the 787 and a VERY large twin engined, wide bodied aircraft. Yes, it may have some new design features but ANY aircraft could be a dreamliner to you! (That was just me riding a hobby horse!)
Enjoy the cabin, we do occaisionally experience turbulence and it is best to keep your seat belt fastened at all times.
We have be using numbers to "name" our work ever since we could count. If you think about musicians for example, many just numbered their works (Opus No. 106, or Symphony No. 6 etc.). Maybe as a result of that, the aircraft manufacturers followed suit, egged on by the military who used numbers so it wouldn't confuse the officers too much... And it's just carried on ever since then. Numbers are also pretty inoffensive things (mind you, I don't think a BoeBus 69 will ever be built) which is important when you are in an international market. For example, it would a tremendous shame if you spent millions marketing an aircraft only to find its name meant "Nipple" in Russian.
Welcome aboard FlyingGoggles. In contracted form this became 721 and 722. Which is why the 747-400 is the 744. ... Again, an Airbus 340-600 is a 346.
The contracted form "744 / 346" is necessary for airlines computer reservations system which allow a maximum of three characters for aircraft type. In the early days everything was shared via teletype in which every character cost money to send.
Now that we have modern internet systems the characters are still limited to three, because it's too expensive to change the system and maintain a standard, for no return. Most airline employees have these memorised.
This is also why IATA three letter airport/city codes are used vs. ICAO's four, and why fare basis codes are no longer than 12 characters.
P.S. The "SP" in 747-SP stands for Special Performance. Boeing took the standard 747, shortened it, gave it bigger wings (and tail) so it could fly higher and further. I believe PA introduced it nonstop on the JFK-TYO route which was a remarkable achievement in those days. Iran Air was another early adopter flying it nonstop from Tehran to JFK, in the days of the Shah. They still fly this model, but not this route, one of the few airlines to do so.
Ah, thanks for the clarification, makes a lot more sense now. I did wonder about airport codes, because I'm used to say, MAN, LHR etc, and then reading about US airports, most seem to have a K in front of them, was slightly confusing.
Thanks for the expanded info ExXB, I have to warn you that your anorak can be seen leaping out of the cupboard.
The other early user of the 74SP was South African Airways. Because they were not allowed to overfly Africa, due to apartheid, they had to fly West around the 'bulge' and not having to stop at Ilha doSol (Canary Islands) SID [not to be confused with SYD!] for a tech stop was very important to them. I recall stopping at SID several times with SAA 747-100 in the middle of the night and we were not allowed off it was just fuel. What flight crew call, "A splash and dash". Every business has it's own jargon!
Mostly, it is flight crew (FC) that use the the four letter codes (LHR = EGLL, MAN = EGCC) and cabin crew (CC) that use the three letters, because that's what Pax are used to and Pax do not know about the other set. As ExXB said, it's all about the long history of the business and everyone is now used to their particular set of codes.
and not having to stop at Ilha doSol (Canary Islands) SID [not to be confused with SYD!] for a tech stop was very important to them. I recall stopping at SID several times with SAA 747-100 in the middle of the night and we were not allowed off it was just fuel.
I know it was dark PAXboy, but if you stopped in SID, Ilha do Sal, you were in the Cape Verde Islands, not the Canaries...