A new leader takes flight
With its first delivery of an A320neo Family aircraft in January 2016, Airbus kicked off a new era that brings an even higher standard to this best-selling single-aisle product line’s fuel efficiency, while also reducing noise and emissions.
The A320neo is the latest of many product upgrades as Airbus continues to invest approximately 300 million euros a year in the A320 Family to maintain its position as the most advanced and fuel-efficient single-aisle aircraft product line available today.
The A320neo (new engine option) benefits from propulsion technology improvements being prepared by engine manufacturers.
Launched in December 2010, the NEO programme features the choice of two new engines (Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1100G-JM, and the LEAP-1A from CFM) on A319neo, A320neo and A321neo aircraft, along with the Sharklet wingtip devices. Combined with innovative new layouts which offer airlines higher seat counts at the same Airbus modern comfort standard, Airbus philosophy for continuous improvement will increase the NEO’s fuel burn improvement compared to current-generation aircraft from 15 per cent from Day One to 20 per cent per seat by 2020.
A major step forward in aerodynamic improvements was introduction of “Sharklets,” 2.4-meter-tall wingtip devices that provide operators with the flexibility of either adding an additional 100 nautical miles range or increased payload capability of up to 450 kg. Made from lightweight composites, these wingtip devices offer up to four per cent overall fuel burn savings.
Sharklets also offer such advantages for operators as better rate-of-climb, higher optimum altitude, reduced engine maintenance costs and higher residual aircraft value, in addition to their performance and environmental improvements.
The wingtip devices have become popular options on new-build A319, A320 and A321 CEO (current engine option) aircraft, and are also offered for retrofit for in-service A320ceo and A319ceo jetliners, while coming standard on Airbus’ NEO Family. Sharklets also are equipped on the ACJ319, ACJ320 and ACJ321 corporate jet versions based on Airbus’ A320 Family members.
The A320 Family heralded a new era for single-aisle aircraft, introducing the latest technology and innovation in a category of aircraft that had not seen true modernisation since the dawn of the jet age.
The A320 Family offers technology that reduces costs.
Airbus continues to enhance the capabilities of this eco-efficient product line with continuous improvements in aerodynamics and systems.
Airbus pioneered the fly-by-wire concept with its A320 Family, and years of reliable service around the world have proven the significant benefits through commonality, improved flight safety, reduced pilot workload, a reduction of mechanical parts, and real-time monitoring of all aircraft systems.
Fast and efficient
An advanced wing design makes the A320 Family faster and more efficient. Compared to its nearest competitor, the A320 Family is four per cent more efficient at a cruise speed of Mach 0.78 and can fly four per cent faster for the same efficiency.
The A320 jetliner’s higher bypass ratio jet engines provide better fuel efficiency and lower maintenance costs, and these powerplants have been evolved by their manufacturers to further improve maintainability – along with reducing emissions and improving fuel consumption.
Airbus has incorporated the best in advanced design concepts, modern production methods and new materials in the A320’s airframe to ensure high structural reliability and easy maintainability. Improved aluminium alloys increase structural life, while the extensive use of composite materials save weight and reduce parts.
The fly-by-wire concept for flight controls was introduced by Airbus on the A320 Family, which literally revolutionised the civil air transport industry. In addition to providing precise handling characteristics and a new level of flight protection, fly-by-wire also introduced the Airbus cockpit commonality concept, which provides daily benefits for operators worldwide.
Advanced navigation technology is available for the A320 Family to support its worldwide fleet’s operations. This includes the Required Navigation Performance (RNP) capability, which reduces approach distances for landing while reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions; the Global Position (GPS) landing system, allowing instrument-type approaches where ground stations are not available; 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.
The A320 Family’s operational flexibility is underscored by the A318’s “steep approach” approval – making it the largest commercial aircraft certified to land at steeper-than-usual gradients, allowing for operations out of mountainous or constrained locations such as urban area airports. Using this capability, British Airways pioneered service from the in-town London City Airport to New York’s JFK International.
A pilot qualified on one version can fly all of the other A320 Family members without extra training, as the result of the single type rating provided by airworthiness authorities. The Cross-Crew Qualification concept was introduced by Airbus to allow pilots qualified on the A320 Family to transition into any other Airbus fly-by-wire aircraft with only difference training – while the Airbus Mixed-Fleet Flying concept enables pilots to operate multiple aircraft types across the current Airbus single-aisle and widebody product lines.
With fly-by-wire flight controls and cockpit commonality, Airbus’ entire product line of market-leading widebody and single-aisle aircraft shares similar handling characteristics and flight procedures, resulting in five-to-15 per cent more productive flying for operators and approximately 80 per cent lower transition costs for flight crews.
In addition, with major improvement steps such as the A320neo, Airbus investments keep the A320 Family at the leading edge of technology. As a result, the aircraft have improved payload and range, enhanced performance, improved maintenance, and more efficient operational procedures.
Aerodynamic enhancements such as a new shaped engine pylon and a redesigned upper-belly fairing have reduced cruise drag, improving the A320 Family’s fuel consumption and lowering emissions.
Orders & deliveries
Did you know?
Every seven hours, an A320 Family aircraft leaves one of Airbus’ four final assembly line locations in France, Germany, China and the U.S.
The A320 Family has carried more than 10.5 billion passengers.
Today’s A320s have an operational reliability of 99.7 per cent.
Arranged from nose to tail, all A320 Family aircraft produced to date would form a 260 km.-long line – the length of 2,500 soccer fields.
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 two seconds of every day.