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, 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 has booked nearly 2,700 firm orders for new engine option aircraft as of early July 2014, comprising an important percentage of the more than 10,300 overall orders logged by Airbus for the entire A320 Family.
A320NEO: SETTING NEW STANDARDS
The A320neo provides minimum change with maximum benefit for the A319, A320 and A321 through the incorporation of two new engine choices – the PW1100G PurePower from Pratt & Whitney and CFM International’s LEAP-1A – along with Airbus’ Sharklets large wing tip devices.
These improvements will deliver fuel savings of 15 per cent 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 3,600 tonnes less CO2 per aircraft per year.
Additionally, the A320neo will provide a double-digit reduction in NOx emissions and reduced engine noise.
The new A320 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 who have taken delivery of more than 6,000 of these aircraft through 2013.
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 corporate jet versions based on Airbus’ A320 Family members: the ACJ318, ACJ319, ACJ320 and ACJ321. 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 environmental benefits, the Sharklets’ aerodynamic improvements are to provide multiple advantages for operators – including increased range and payload, better takeoff performance and 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 the first A319 and A321 with these devices to American Airlines and Finnair, respectively.
With the popularity of its Sharklets, Airbus also has announced a Sharklets retrofit option for the in-service fleet A319 and A320 jetliners. Launched in October 2013, the programme will offer the fuel-saving and performance enhancing benefits of these devices, while extending service life for earlier production A320 Family aircraft, available from 2015.
The A320 family’s cornerstone aircraft is the A320, which accommodates 150 passengers in a typical two-class arrangement, and up to 180 with high-density seating. The stretched-fuselage A321 version seats 185 passengers in the two-class layout, and up to 220 for a high-density cabin. The shorter-fuselage A319 has a 124-passenger capacity in the two-class configuration, and up to 156 in high-density, while the smallest – Airbus’ A318 – seats 107 passengers in the two-class cabin and 132 with high-density seating.
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 – which is seven inches larger than its competitor – include wider seats for unmatched passenger comfort, a wider 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 dispatch reliability of over 99 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 programme, 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 – 42 per month as of February 2014 – as a result of these single-aisle jetliners’ continuing commercial success and strong backlog.
In February 2014, Airbus announced a gradual ramp-up in A320 Family production – which will occur through the second quarter of 2016, when 46 single-aisle jetliners are planned to be produced per month. This follows a previous rise, during which production rates increased from 36 aircraft per month in 2010 to 42 by the end of 2012.
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 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?
A320 Family aircraft are assembled in France, Germany and China.
The A320 Final Assembly Line in Toulouse once was the Concorde Assembly Hall.
Consisting primarily of aluminium alloy, the A320 is also built with high technology materials such as carbon composites, Kevlar and fiberglass.
A320 Family aircraft fly to some of the world's most challenging airports including Himalayan airfields in China, India and Bhutan.
80 per cent of A320 Family operators fly at least two members of the Family.
- An A320 Family aircraft takes off or lands every 2.5 seconds of every day.