LONDON – January 2021 marked five years since the first Airbus A320neo has entered into commercial service. German carrier Lufthansa was the first to bring it into service having previously ordered 71 units of the type originally (Airbus, 2016).
Between January 2016 and January 2021, Airbus has delivered 1,629 units of the A320neo family to dozens of customers around the world (Airbus, 2021).
This article will look at the A320neo as a project, including its milestones, its weaknesses, as well as where it is currently at now and going into the future.
A Brief History…
We rewind to 15 years ago when Airbus initiated its Airbus A320 Enhanced program, which was designed to target improvements in efficiency by four to five per cent.
This was to be achieved with large winglets, which launched at the Dubai Air Show in 2009, to aerodynamic adjustments, savings in weight and a new aircraft cabin.
At the time, the-then sales chief for the manufacturer John Leahy hinted that such percentage savings may not be enough, “especially if another 10% improvement might be coming in the second half of the next decade based on new engine technology” (FlightGlobal, 2006).
Fast forward to 2010, and Airbus was slated to make its decision on the New Engine Option (neo) which was made on December 1. At that time, the manufacturer stated it aimed to deliver over 4,000 aircraft over a 15-year period, which is very on-track to do so.
Price tags at the time were announced to be around seven to eight million dollars more than the current generation A320s (ceo) (Hamilton, 2010). But Airbus was able to argue that the fuel-saving efficiencies, through engine contracts with CFM International for the LEAP-1A and the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G, that there would be savings of up to 16%, which would later prove to be cheaper than current CEO models.
July 1, 2014 was a historic day for the program as the first aircraft rolled out of the flight line in Toulouse, with the designation MSN6101, which was “equipped with extensive flight test instrumentation for handling qualities, performance and engine tests” etc. (Airbus, 2014).
On top of the fuel savings, Airbus pushed its sales campaign even further through the famous words of “Commonality” that the manufacturer now strives for across its entire portfolio of aircraft, which bade well with customers.