Airbus has achieved assembly of the engine pylon for the first A320neo to fly. The pylon (depicted below), which has just been completed at the dedicated pylon facility in St Eloi in Toulouse, is the first major airframe component assembly to take place for the NEO programme. In parallel with this pylon construction, other major NEO components and subassemblies will shortly be taking shape in factories across various countries. For example, in Hamburg the centre wing-box will soon arrive from the UK to be integrated in the fuselage, and also the rear fuselage will begin assembly there. In St. Nazaire, the forward fuselage will start assembly in January 2014. Overall progress on the first A320neo is well on track for aircraft final assembly to start in spring 2014, followed by the aircraft making its first flight next autumn.
Users of the A320neo aircraft are going to have more choices for selecting the aircraft engines together with aerodynamic wing Sharklets:
The A320neo provides minimum change with maximum benefit for the A319, A320 and A321 through the incorporation of two new engine choices – the PW1100G PurePower from Pratt & Whitney and CFM International’s LEAP-1A – along with Airbus’ Sharklets large wing tip devices. These improvements will deliver fuel savings of 15 per cent and an additional flight distance of 500 nautical miles (950 kilometres), or the ability to carry two tonnes more payload at a given range. For the environment, the A320neo’s fuel savings translate into some 3,600 tonnes less CO2 per aircraft per year. Additionally, the A320neo will provide a double-digit reduction in NOx emissions and reduced engine noise. The new A320 versions will have over 95 per cent airframe commonality with the A320ceo (current engine option) versions, enabling it to fit seamlessly into existing A320 Family fleets – a key factor for Airbus customers and operators who have taken delivery of more than 5,700 aircraft through September 2013.
The A320 aircraft is entirely focused on covering short-to medium distance flights:
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. Typically seating 150 passengers in a two-class cabin – or up to 180 in a high-density layout for low-cost and charter flights – the A320 is in widespread service around the globe on services that vary from short commuter sectors in Europe, Asia and elsewhere to trans-continental flights across the United States. The A320’s advanced technology includes the extensive use of weight-saving composites, an optimised wing that is 20 per cent is 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. 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”).
Finally, the production of the A320neo aircraft proves that major airplane producers are moving ahead, taking advantage of the benefits of new technologies and materials in their production lines. Applied innovation is also a central component in the overall production of A320neo…