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Building the future: Airbus’ first A320neo to fly begins final assembly in March

11 February 2014 Feature story

As one of Airbus’ next-generation aircraft makes headlines with the A350 XWB’s Singapore Airshow appearance, another of the company’s latest products – the A320neo – is preparing for its own major milestones this year.

The A320neo programme is moving into full gear as final assembly starts next month for the first of these single-aisle jetliners. This aircraft is planned for an autumn maiden flight.

“The physical start-up of final assembly is right around the corner,” said Klaus Roewe, Airbus’ Senior Vice President A320neo Programme. “This is the moment of truth: We are on-time, on-quality and the aircraft is on-target to deliver the performance requirements that customers expect.”

In total, eight A320neo Family aircraft will participate in the flight-test campaign that includes two A320s, as well as an A319 and A321 for both of the new engine options. The developmental A320neos will carry out all engine-specific tests for certification, while the flight-test A319neo and A321neo versions will be used for type certification of those models.

Roewe said Airbus is already preparing for the A320neo’s ramp-up, when the company transitions from the CEO to the NEO. Later this year, the company will conduct the first of a series of “boost” tests – producing early batches of components within a restricted lead-time to evaluate if the industrial system is ready to provide the high output needed through ramp-up. 

“We are fully confident that we can continue the A320 success story with an excellent product that meets – or exceeds – our commitments,” Roewe said.

Incorporating new engine choices – CFM International’s LEAP-1A and the PurePower PW1100G-JM from Pratt & Whitney – along with Airbus’ fuel-saving Sharklets wingtip devices, the NEO shares over 95 per cent commonality with current engine option (CEO) aircraft, while delivering  at least 15 per cent fuel burn reduction.

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