Setting the single-aisle standards
Airbus launched its single-aisle product line with the A320, which continues to set industry standards for comfort and operating economy on short- to medium-haul routes. The A320 is in widespread use around the globe, with a range of up to 6,480 km. (3,500 nautical miles). It is capable of flying routes ranging from short European commuter sectors and charter operations to coast-to-coast U.S. flights, and more.
The A320 typically seats 150 passengers in a two-class cabin – or up to 180 in a high-density layout for low-cost and charter flights. As a result of an optimised cabin space and increased exit limits, the A320neo (new engine option) accommodates 165 passengers in two classes or up to 189 in a high-density configuration.
The A320’s advanced technology includes the extensive use of weight-saving composites, an optimised wing that is 20 per cent more efficient than previous designs, a centralised fault display for easier troubleshooting and lower maintenance costs, along with Airbus’ fly-by-wire flight controls.
Advantages of the fly-by-wire controls – which were pioneered on the A320 – are many. They provide total flight envelope and airframe structural protection for improved safety and reduced pilot workload, along improved flight smoothness and stability, and fewer mechanical parts.
The new engine option takes flight
The future of single-aisle efficiency is taking flight, with the A320neo Family. The baseline A320neo variant powered by Pratt & Whitney PurePower® Geared Turbofan™ engines was the first NEO Family aircraft version to be delivered – with the milestone handover occurring in January 2016 to Lufthansa. Some six months later, Airbus provided the initial LEAP-1A-powered A320neo version to Turkey’s Pegasus Airlines.
Incorporating new engine choices, aerodynamic improvements, and the latest cabin features, the A320neo Family offers up to 20 per cent savings in fuel burn per seat by 2020, two tonnes of additional payload, 500 nautical miles of more range, lower operating costs, along with reductions in engine noise and emissions.
For more information on the A320neo, visit Airbus’ dedicated A320neo page.
A key contributor to the NEO’s performance are Sharklets – which were pioneered on the A320ceo (current engine option). These 2.4-metre-tall wingtip devices are standard on NEO aircraft, and result in up to four per cent reduced fuel burn over longer sectors, corresponding to an annual reduction in CO2 emissions of around 900 tonnes per aircraft. Sharklets also are available for new-build and retrofit on A320ceo jetliners.
Simply the best cabin
The A320’s right-sized fuselage is seven inches wider than its competitors, enhancing comfort for passengers and increasing revenue opportunities for airlines. It enables choices of four-, five-, and six-abreast layouts with wider seats, along with opportunities for wider aisles and increased overhead storage bins. Rapid turnaround times on the ground are further facilitated by the A320’s bigger passenger and service doors.
Airbus has developed a new interior for the A320 and its other family members that brings a fresh new look to the cabin, a significant increase in overhead stowage, a noticeable reduction in noise, and introduces options for ambience lighting. An added advantage is this updated interior’s lower weight.
In addition, fly-by-wire and cockpit standardization across the A320 Family are at the heart of Airbus’ commonality, which allows a pilot qualified on one Family member to fly them all, using the same type rating. Over 80 per cent of operators with 10 or more A320 Family jetliners in their fleets fly more than one model of the Airbus single-aisle product line – enabling them to benefit fully from the commonality concept through more effective scheduling of aircraft and crews.
Taking the Airbus commonality one step further, an A320-rated pilot can transition to any other Airbus jetliner with reduced training (known as “Cross-crew Qualification”), and is able to operate another Airbus aircraft type while still actively flying the A320 Family (a capability called “Mixed Fleet Flying”).
Navigating the future
Advanced navigation technology contributes to the A320’s operational versatility. This includes the Required Navigation Performance (RNP) capability, which reduces approach distances for landing while reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions; and the Global Position (GPS) landing system, allowing instrument-type approaches where ground stations are not available.
Also offered are the Microwave Landing System (MLS) for increased approach capability in low visibility conditions; and the Future Air Navigation System (FANS) for optimised flight path and reduced aircraft spacing.