The exceptional commercial activity for Airbus’ highly-efficient A320neo (new engine option) is led by the 100-aircraft order from international leasing company ILFC – which was announced earlier this week, finalising a memorandum of understanding inked in March.
Joining ILFC in signing agreements since the option’s announcement in December 2010 are IndiGo, Virgin America and Brazil’s TAM – each of which will benefit from the A320neo’s more efficient engines and large "Sharklet" wing tip devices for fuel savings of up to 15 per cent, along with additional range of up to 500 nautical miles/900 km. or 2 tonnes of extra payload.
The A320neo marks a new step in Airbus’ continuous evolution of the A320 Family, which demonstrates its maturity and reliability in operational service worldwide. As this new engine option offers maximum benefit with minimal changes from baseline A320 Family aircraft, the A320neo will be built using Airbus’ existing industrial system – with airframes for both versions manufactured in parallel for high production flexibility.
In addition to the integration of Sharklets and two new engine choices – CFM International’s LEAP-X and the PW1100G by Pratt & Whitney – modifications for the A320neo configuration include certain structural changes to specific airframe areas, along with a new engine pylon.
Earlier this year, customers selected the PW1100G as lead development engine, allowing the A320neo’s industrial development phase to begin in earnest. Originally scheduled for a service entry in 2016, this date was moved up earlier this month due to high market demand.
Airbus now is targeting the fall of 2014 for a maiden flight of its A320neo, with certification to follow about one year later. Current planning calls for an eight-aircraft flight test programme, which will accumulate a combined total of approximately 2,600 flight hours.