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A 787 and an A350 Walked into a Bar…

A chance side-by-side snapshot of the two widebodies from competing makers gave online observers a treasure trove of material.

A Boeing 787 and an Airbus A-350 in Japan Airlines livery.
Photo via u/SiljaEuropa on Redditt

For decades it’s been an accepted principle as that aerodynamics and economics evolve that the airplanes these forces forge will converge on a certain form. In the animal world, this is called convergent evolution. It explains why, even though they evolved on separate continents, the North American red fox and the now-extinct Australian thylacine, often referred to as the Tasmanian wolf or Tasmanian tiger, share such dramatically similar features.

So too is it with the Boeing 787 and Airbus A-350 airliners, though the isolation of their development isn’t as pure as that of the two predatory mammals. Regardless, the similarities are striking, as seen in this plane spotting photo that popped up on Reddit, featuring two Japan Airlines twinjets in similar livery: the Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner and Airbus A350-900. Two visually matched widebodies serving the same airline.

Comments in the Reddit thread provide a fascinating breakdown of the differences and similarities between the two, such as the 787’s electric non-bleed air environmental control system requiring “ram ducts” at the wing root and the A350’s bleed-air ECS. You can also see similarities like the slanted rain gutters over boarding doors, massive wing root fairings, and ultra-swoopy “blended winglet” wingtips, thanks to advanced composite construction. Even the slope angles from the nosecone to rooftop of each are shockingly similar.

Perhaps this comment sums up the photo best: “As we converge on the optimal tube w/wings design plane spotting only gets more difficult.” However, based on specifications alone, the newer A350-900 wins this photo battle thanks to its longer range, greater payload, and higher seating capacities, if that’s what you’re into. As for us, we’ll just enjoy the visual comparison.

Coincidentally, the Airbus pictured, “01X,” appears to the very first A350 delivered to JAL, according to a June 2019 press release from Airbus.

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