The market leader
The A320 single-aisle jetliner family (composed of the A318, A319, A320 and A321) is the world’s best-selling single-aisle aircraft family. It is used in a full range of services from very short-haul airline routes to intercontinental segments, on operations from challenging in-city airports to high-altitude airfields and an Antarctic ice runway, and on VVIP and government missions with the most discerning passengers.
To ensure this true market leader keeps its competitive edge, Airbus continues to invest in improvements across the product line, including development of the A320neo (new engine option) Family, enhancements to the jetliner’s aerodynamics such as Sharklets wingtip devices, upgrades to the widest passenger cabin in its class, and extended service intervals for the airframe.
Airbus had booked over 4,100 firm orders for new engine option aircraft as of August 2015, comprising an important percentage of the more than 11,800 overall orders logged by Airbus for the entire A320 Family.
SETTING NEW STANDARDS WITH THE NEO
The A320neo “new engine option” is the latest of many product upgrades as Airbus continues to invest around 300 million euros a year in innovation for the A320 Family. The NEO incorporates many innovations, including latest generation engine choices – the PurePower PW1100G-JM from Pratt & Whitney and CFM International’s LEAP-1A –and large Sharklet wing-tip devices, which together deliver 15 percent in fuel savings upon service entry.
By 2020, the NEO will deliver a 20 per cent fuel burn improvement per seat and an additional flight distance of 500 nautical miles (950 kilometres), or the ability to carry two tonnes more payload at a given range. For the environment, the A320neo’s fuel savings translate into some 5,000 tonnes fewer CO2 emitted per aircraft annually. Additionally, the A320neo will provide a double-digit reduction in NOx emissions and reduced engine noise.
The A320neo versions will have over 95 per cent airframe commonality with the A320ceo (current engine option) versions, enabling it to fit seamlessly into existing A320 Family fleets – a key factor for Airbus customers and operators which have taken delivery of more than 6,500 CEO aircraft so far.
Airbus marked an aviation milestone with the first flight of its A320neo, performed in September 2014. This activity kicked off the NEO flight test and certification programme, which is to include some 3,000 flight hours.
SHARKLETS FOR THE A320 FAMILY
Airbus has enhanced its A320 Family with fuel-saving Sharklets, which are available as an option on new-build A319, A320 and A321 aircraft; standard on the full A320neo product line, and offered as a retrofit for in-service A320s and A319s from 2015. Sharklets also are equipped on the ACJ319, ACJ320 and ACJ321 corporate jet versions based on Airbus’ A320 Family members. These devices cut down on aerodynamic drag by helping reduce the spiral-shaped vortices that are formed at the wingtips of any aircraft during flight.
The Sharklets bring four per cent savings in overall fuel consumption on long route sectors to A320 aircraft, while also improving takeoff performance and increasing payload by as much as 450 kg. – allowing for additional range or more passengers to be carried. These devices also should allow for less thrust to be used during takeoff when runway performance is not “limiting,” thereby decreasing airport noise.
In addition to their performance and environmental benefits, the Sharklets’ aerodynamic improvements provide other advantages for operators – including better rate-of-climb, higher optimum altitude, reduced engine maintenance costs and higher residual aircraft value.
Deliveries of the A320ceo jetliners with Sharklets began in December 2012 with the first aircraft’s handover to AirAsia – the largest low-cost carrier in Asia and the biggest A320 Family airline customer – and Airbus has since delivered both A319s and A321s with Sharklets.
With four different models offering market coverage from 100 to 240 seats, the A320 Family allows operators to match the right aircraft size to demand and cover the entire single-aisle market, from low-to-high-density domestic routes to longer-range thin routes.
The A320 Family offers all of the benefits from Airbus’ advances in innovation and technology, which result in increased revenue opportunities. These aircraft were the first commercial jetliners to incorporate fly-by-wire flight controls. In addition, their optimised fuselage improves passenger revenue with the widest cabin in the single-aisle marketplace, and increased cargo revenue due to the larger cargo holds and integrated on-board loading systems.
Advantages of the A320 Family’s spacious cabin – the widest single-aisle fuselage on the market – include Airbus’ 18-inch wide seat standard for unmatched passenger comfort, an extra-wide aisle for faster boarding and highly efficient in-flight service, more space for carry-on baggage, and choices of seating configurations in four-, five- and six-abreast layouts.
GIVING A LIFT TO THE WORLD
Since the A320’s service introduction in 1988, this highly capable jetliner product line has transported approximately 90 per cent of the world’s population in total numbers, carrying some six billion passengers.
The A320 Family’s numbers speak for themselves: An A320 takes off or lands somewhere in the world every two seconds of every day, more than 50 million operating cycles logged since entry-in-service, and a best-in-its-class operational reliability of over 99.7 per cent.
By totally redefining the level of comfort for passengers, and delivering unmatched efficiency plus the best in technology for operators, the A320 Family has won a majority market share in segments that range from mainline network carriers and low-cost airlines to charter operators and leasing companies. It also has become an aircraft of choice for VIP and government transportation with the Airbus Corporate Jetliner versions.
To regularly enhance the A320 Family’s capabilities and performance, Airbus invests more than 100 million euros annually in keeping the aircraft highly competitive and efficient.
In addition to the A320neo and Sharklets, Airbus has continuously improved payload and range since the A320 Family’s service entry, while various aerodynamic refinements have brought additional reductions in drag for better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
Improvements in the two jet engine types currently available on the A320 Family – CFM International’s CFM56 and the International Aero Engines V2500 – have resulted in fuel consumption reductions, lower emissions, longer on-wing lifetimes and more cost-efficient maintenance.
Airbus has also taken steps to make the A320 Family even quieter, with aircraft innovations such as the higher bypass ratio new engine options for the NEO project; Sharklets, which allow for lower takeoff thrust when runway performance is not “limiting,” and aerodynamic refinements. The A320 Family is also equipped for optimized procedures to reduce noise levels during flight, including required navigation performance and continuous descent approaches.
An enhanced cabin configuration developed by Airbus for new production jetliners – as well as for retrofit on existing aircraft – provides additional shoulder-level room for passengers, 10 per cent greater stowage volume for overhead baggage, and a modern ambience using LED lighting, all while making best use of latest technologies, materials and design. As an added bonus, the new cabin also brings a reduction in weight.
Meeting worldwide demand
Airbus has steadily increased its A320 Family production rate to meet market demand for its best-selling single-aisle product line.
In February 2015, Airbus announced an increase of its A320 Family production rate from the first quarter of 2017, when 50 single-aisle jetliners are planned to be produced per month. This follows a previous rise, during which the company decided to gradually increase production levels from 42 per month in February 2014 to 46 monthly by mid-2016.
The A320 Family is produced on two Airbus assembly lines in Europe: Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany; which have been complemented by an additional facility in China. Toulouse is home to the initial assembly line, building A320s; Hamburg has responsibility for the A318, A319, A320 and A321; while Tianjin assembles A319s and A320s.
Tianjin is Airbus’ first assembly facility located outside of Europe, resulting from a joint venture involving Airbus with a Chinese consortium comprising the Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ) and China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC).
Joining this network will be a new A320 Family production facility in Mobile, Alabama USA, which is to build A319, A320 and A321 jetliners beginning in 2015.
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Did you know?
Every seven hours, an A320 Family aircraft leaves one of Airbus’ three final assembly line locations in France, Germany and China.
The A320 Family has carried more than 10 billion passengers.
Today’s A320s have an operation reliability of 99.7 per cent.
Arranged from nose to tail, all A320 Family aircraft produced to date would form a 200 km.-long line.
The thrust produced by A320 Family engines could keep six elephants stationary against the force of gravity.
- At the end of its lifecycle, 85 per cent of an A320 can be recycled by weight – a figure which will rise to 95 per cent in the coming years.
- An A320 Family aircraft takes off or lands every 2 seconds of every day.