Airbus A320 family

Airbus A320 family
A320 family
US Airways Nevada A319-132
Role Narrow-body jet airliner
National origin Multi-national
Manufacturer Airbus
First flight 22 February 1987
Introduction 28 March 1988
Status In production, in service
Primary users US Airways
China Southern Airlines
United Airlines
Produced 1988–present
Number built 4,858 as of 31 October 2011[1]
Unit cost A318: US$65.2 million, €58 million (2011)[2]
A319: US$77.7 million, €70 million (2011)[2]
A320: US$85.0 million, €79 million (2011)[2]
A321: US$99.7 million, €95 million (2011)[2]
Variants Airbus A318

The Airbus A320 family is a family of short- to medium-range, narrow-body, commercial passenger jet airliners manufactured by Airbus Industrie.[Nb 1] The family includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, as well as the ACJ business jet. Final assembly of the family in Europe takes place in Toulouse, France, and Hamburg, Germany; since 2009, a plant in Tianjin, People's Republic of China, has also started producing aircraft for Chinese airlines.[3] The aircraft family can accommodate up to 220 passengers and has a range of 3,100 to 12,000 km (1,700 to 6,500 nmi), depending on model.

The first member of the A320 family—the A320—was launched in March 1984, first flew on 22 February 1987, and was first delivered in 1988. The family was soon extended to include the A321 (first delivered 1994), the A319 (1996), and the A318 (2003). The A320 family pioneered the use of digital fly-by-wire flight control systems, as well as side stick controls, in commercial aircraft. Although there has been a continuous improvement process since introduction, the proposed A320neo[4] is to offer new, more efficient engines.

As of October 2011, a total of 4,858 Airbus A320 family aircraft have been delivered, of which 4,765 are in service. In addition, another 3,255 airliners are on firm order. According to Airbus, it ranked as the world's fastest-selling jet airliner family according to records from 2005 to 2007, and as the best-selling single-generation aircraft programme.[5][6][7] The family's direct competitors are the Boeing 737, 717 and 757.




When Airbus designed the Airbus A300 during the late 1960s/early 1970s, it envisioned a broad family of airliners with which to compete against Boeing and Douglas, two established US aerospace manufacturers. From the moment of formation, Airbus had begun studies into derivatives of the Airbus A300B in support of this long term goal.[8] Prior to the service introduction of the first Airbus airliners, engineers within Airbus had identified nine possible variations of the A300 known as A300B1 to B9.[9] A 10th variation, conceived in 1973, later the first to be constructed, was designated the A300B10.[10] It was a smaller aircraft which would be developed into the long-range Airbus A310. Airbus then focused its efforts on the single-aisle market, which was dominated by the Boeing 737 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9.

Air Inter A320-100, one of the few A320-100s built. (1991)

Plans from a number of European aircraft manufacturers called for a successor to the relatively successful BAC One-Eleven, and to replace the Boeing 737–200 and DC-9.[11] Germany’s MBB (Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm), British Aircraft Corporation, Sweden's Saab and CASA worked on the EUROPLANE, a 180- to 200-seat aircraft.[11][12] It was abandoned after intruding on A310 specifications.[13] VFW-Fokker, Dornier and Hawker Siddeley worked on a number of 150-seat designs.[11]

Design effort

A new programme was initiated subsequently, called Joint European Transport (JET). This was set up in June 1977,[14] and was based at the then British Aerospace (formerly Hawker Siddeley) site in Weybridge, Surrey, UK. Although the members were all of Airbus' partners, they regarded the project as a separate collaboration from Airbus.[15] This project was considered the forerunner of Airbus A320, encompassing the 130- to 188-seat market, powered by two CFM56s.[11] It would have a cruise speed of Mach 0.84 (faster than B737).[11] The programme was later transferred to Airbus, leading up to the creation of the Single-Aisle (SA) studies in 1980, led by former leader of JET programme, Derek Brown.[16] The group looked at three different variants, covering the 125- to 180-seat market, called SA1, SA2 and SA3.[11] Although unaware at the time, the consortium was producing the blueprints for the A319, A320 and A321, respectively.[17] The single-aisle programme created divisions within Airbus about whether to design a shorter-range twinjet than a longer-range quadjet wanted by the West Germans, particularly Lufthansa.[11][18] However, works proceeded, and the German carrier would eventually order the twinjet.

The cockpit of the A321 is similar to that of the A318, A319 and A320. This layout would later be incorporated to the A330, A340, A380, and the upcoming A350. This is called "commonality" within the industry, which saves airlines money due to the short transition time for pilots. Note the side-stick controller, a first for a commercial aircraft, along with the digital fly-by-wire technology.

In February 1981, the project was re-designated A320,[17] with efforts focused on the former SA2. During the year, Airbus worked with Delta Air Lines on a 150-seat aircraft envisioned and required by the airline. The A320 would carry 150 passengers 1,860 nautical miles (3,440 km) using fuel from wing fuel tanks only.[17] The Dash 200 had more fuel through the activation of center fuel tank, increasing fuel capacity from 3,429 imperial gallons (15,590 L) to 5,154 imperial gallons (23,430 L).[19] enabling to fly up to 2,850 nautical miles (5,280 km).[17] The aircraft would measure 118 feet 3 inches (36.04 m) and 128 feet 9 inches (39.24 m), respectively.[17] Airbus then had to decide on a cross-section for the A320. It considered a fuselage diameter of "the Boeing 707 and 727, or do something better".[11] It eventually settled on a wider diameter, with the internal width at 3.7 metres (12 ft 2 in),[11] compared to 3.45 metres (11 ft 4 in)[11] of the Boeing aircraft. Although heavier, this specification allowed the aircraft to compete more effectively with the 737. The A320 wing went through several stages of design, finally settling on 33.91 metres (111 feet 3 inches).[19] It is longer and thinner, offering better aerodynamic efficiency because of higher aspect ratio than the competition, namely the 737 and MD-80.

With the A320, Airbus made a controversial decision. For the first time, digital fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system would be incorporated into a commercial airliner,[20] although it was previously successfully proven on military fighter aircraft,[20] such as the Vought F-8 Crusader. Aside from associated reduction in weight and cost, this system would provide flight envelope protection.[21] The pilot, in essence, places inputs into the flight control computer, which interprets these actions and moves the flight control surfaces. FBW also allows Airbus to make flying characteristics similar to later models,[22] such as the Airbus A330, A340, A380, and the upcoming A350. It would feature, for the first time, side-stick control, which was implemented on the General Dynamics F-16.[22]

During the A320 development programme, Airbus considered propfan technology, backed by Lufthansa.[23] At the time unproven, it was essentially a fan placed outside the engine nacelle, offering speed of a turbofan at turboprops economics; eventually, Airbus stuck with turbofans. Power on the A320 would be supplied by two CFM56-5-A1s rated at 25,000 lbf (112.5 kN).[19] It was the only available engine at launch until the IAE V2500, offered by International Aero Engines, a group composed of Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney, Japanese Aero Engines Corporation, Fiat and MTU Aero Engines (MTU). The first V2500 variant, the V2500-A1, has a thrust output of 25,000 pounds-force (110 kN),[24] hence the name, and is marginally more efficient than the CFM56, with specific fuel consumption at 0.560, compared to 0.591 of the CFM56.[25]

Production, testing and demonstration

The horizontal stabilizer of the A320 is produced in Spain. Other A320 parts are manufactured at various sites throughout Europe and the world.

Production of the A320 was postponed due to a number of reasons. From the start, the UK, France and West Germany wanted the responsibility of final assembly and the associated duties. These disputes were known as "work-share arguments",[26] driven by, apart from money, prestige.[26] The Germans requested an increased work-share of 40%,[26] while the British wanted the major responsibilities to be swapped around to give partners production and research and development (R&D) experience.[26] In the end, British work-share was increased from that of the two previous Airbuses,[26] while virtually no changes took place for the other three major member-countries. Another contributing factor was launch aid, or subsidies, for the aerospace companies from their respective governments. France was willing to commit, while the Germans were more cautious.[27] The UK government, on the other hand, were unwilling to provide fundings for the tooling requested by British Aerospace (BAe). Estimated at 250 million, it was postponed for three years until 1 March 1984,[19] when an announcement was made about the deal between government and manufacturer. The agreement dictates that ₤50 million would be paid whether the A320 would fly or not, while the rest would be paid as a levy of each aircraft sold.[28]

The programme was launched the following day[29] off the back of orders for 96 aircraft from five customers. Air France was the first customer for the type, having placed an order for 50 aircraft, split evenly between firm and options, between 16 A320-100s and 34 -200s.[20] However, British Caledonian was the first to place a firm order for seven back in October 1983.[30] Cyprus Airways became the first to place order for V2500-powered A320s in November 1984.[31] Pan Am also selected V2500 when it requested 16 firm orders and 34 options in January 1995, as did Inex Adria.[30] The most significant order was to come, when Northwest Airlines placed an order for 100 A320s in October 1986, later confirmed at the 1990 Farnborough Airshow, powered by CFM56.[32]

Bulbous aircraft unloading green cylindrical aircraft fuselage through upward-hinging door above nose.
An Airbus Beluga unloading A320-family aircraft parts at Finkenwerder, northern Germany.

The first Airbus A320 was rolled out on 14 February 1987 amid dry ice and laser beams as part of a spectacular unveiling ceremony.[33][34] A number of high-profile figures were present, including the Prince and Princess of Wales.[35] The first flight came on 22 February,[34] during which the aircraft flew for 3 hours 23 minutes.[29] The flight marked the beginning of a flight test programme involving 1,200 airborne hours on 530 flights.[33] European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) certification was received on 26 February 1988.[33] The first A320 delivery was to Air France on 26 March 1988.[33]

On 26 June 1988, a chartered Air France Airbus A320-111 (F-GFKC)[36] crashed into trees at the end of runway at Mulhouse-Habsheim Airport. Three out of 130 passengers were killed.[36] Another A320, flown by Indian Airlines, crashed landed short of the airport runway in Bangalore. The ensuing fire contributed to the casualty count of ninety-two, out of 146 on board.[37] The press and media later questioned the fly-by-wire flight control system.[36] Subsequent investigations by commission of inquiry found "no malfunction of the aircraft or its equipment which could have contributed towards a reduction in safety or an increase in the crew's workload during the final flight phase...the response of the engines was normal and in compliance with certification requirement".[36]

Airbus A32X Family

As of 2009, Airbus required about eight months to build an A320.[38] Components from various Airbus plants are transported to the final assembly plant at Hamburg Finkenwerder for the A318/A319/A321[39] and to Toulouse Blagnac for the A320. Nearly all assemblies are moved using Airbus' A300-600ST Beluga outsized transporters. Airbus A320s sold to Chinese airlines scheduled for delivery between 2009 and 2012 are being assembled in Tianjin, People's Republic of China.[40]

Stretching and shrinking

The first derivative of the A320 is the Airbus A321, also known as the Stretched A320, A320-500 and A325.[33][41] Its launch came on 24 November 1988 after commitments for 183 aircraft from 10 customers were secured.[33][42] The aircraft would be a minimum-changed derivative, apart from a number of minor modifications to the wing, and the fuselage stretch itself. The wing would incorporate double-slotted flaps and minor trailing edge modifications,[43] increasing the wing area from 124 m2 (1,330 sq ft) to 128 m2 (1,380 sq ft).[44] The fuselage was lengthened by four plugs (two ahead and two behind the wings), giving the A321 an overall length of 6.94 metres (22 ft 9 in) longer than the A320.[43][45][46] The length increase required the overwing exits of the A320 to be enlarged and repositioned to either the leading or trailing edges of the wings.[47] Reinforced were the centre fuselage and undercarriage to accommodate the increase in maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 9,600 kg (21,200 lb), taking the MTOW to 83,000 kg (183,000 lb).[43]

Alitalia was the second to receive the stretched A321, after Lufthansa.[47] One example is seen here during climb out from London Heathrow Airport, with landing gear still retracting

Final assembly for the A321 would be, as a first for any Airbus, carried out in Germany (then West Germany).[48] This came after a dispute between the French, who claimed the move would incur $150 million, €135 million in unnecessary expenditure associated with the new plant,[49] and the Germans, arguing it would be more productive for Airbus in the long run. The second production line was located at Hamburg, which would also produce the smaller Airbus A319 and A318. For the first time, Airbus entered the bond market, through which it raised $480 million, €475 million to finance development costs.[36] An additional $180 million, €175 million was loaned from European Investment Bank and private investors.[50] The maiden flight of the Airbus A321 came on 11 March 1993, when the prototype, registration F-WWIA, flew with IAE V2500 engines; the second prototype, equipped with CFM56-5B turbofans, flew in May.[47] Lufthansa and Alitalia were the first to order the stretched Airbuses, with 20 and 40 aircraft requested, respectively.[47] The first of Lufthansa's V2500-A5-powered A321s arrived on 27 January 1994, while over at Alitalia, the first CFM56-5B-powered aircraft was delivered on 22 March.[47]

The A319 is the next derivative of the baseline A320. The design is a "shrink" with its origins in the 130- to 140-seat SA1, part of the Single-Aisle studies.[49] The SA1 was shelved as the consortium concentrated on its bigger siblings. After healthy sales of the A320/A321, Airbus turned its focus back to what was then known as the A320M-7, meaning A320 minus seven rows of seats.[51] It would provide direct competition for the Boeing 737–500/600.[49] The shrink was achieved though the removal of four fuselage frames fore and three aft the wing, cutting the overal length by 3.73 metres (12 ft 3 in).[45][52][53] Consequently, the number of overwing exits were reduced from four to two. The bulk-cargo door was replaced by an aft container door, which can take in reduced height LD3-46 containers.[52] Minor software programming were made to accommodate the different handling characteristics; otherwise the aircraft is largely unchanged. Power is provided by the CFM56-5A or V2500-A5, derated to 98 kN (22,000 lbf), with option for 105 kN (24,000 lbf) thrust.[54]

A US Airways A319 in America West heritage livery. The A319's wingspan is longer than the aircraft's overall length.

Airbus began offering the new model from 22 May 1992, with the actual launch occurring 10 June 1993;[55][56] the A319's first customer is ILFC, who signed for 6 aircraft. The development cost was $275 million, €250 million.[52][55] On 23 March 1995, the first A319 underwent final assembly at Airbus' German plant in Hamburg, where the A321s are assembled. It was rolled out on 24 August, with the maiden flight the following day.[57] The certification programme would take 350 airborne hours involving two aircraft; certification for the CFM56-5B6/2-equipped variant was granted in April 1996, after which qualification for the V2524-A5 started the following month.[58] Delivery of the first A319, to Swissair, took place on 25 April 1996, entering service by month's end.[58] In January 1997, A 319 broke a record during a delivery flight by flying 3,588 nautical miles (6,645 km) the great circle route to Winnipeg, Manitoba from Hamburg, in 9 hours 5 minutes.[58] Sales of A319 would overtake that of the A321, amassing 1,470 order compared to 932;[1] it has proved popular with low-cost airlines such as EasyJet, who has orders for 172, with 167 delivered.[1]

Further shrinking

The A318 was born out of mid-1990 studies between Aviation Industries of China (AVIC), Singapore Technologies Aerospace, Alenia and Airbus on a 95- to 125-seat aircraft project. The programme was called the AE31X, and covers the 95-seat AE316 and 115- to 125-seat AE317.[59] The former would have an overall length of31.3 m (102 ft 8 in), while the AE317 is longer by 3.2 m (10 ft 6 in), at 34.5 m (113 ft 2 in).[60] The engines would be supplied from two BMW Rolls-Royce BR715s, CFM56-9s, or the Pratt & Whitney PW6000s;[59][60] with the MTOW of 53.3 t (118,000 lb) for the smaller version and 58 t (130,000 lb) for the AE317, the thrust requirement were 77.9–84.6 kN (17,500–19,000 lbf) and 84.6–91.2 kN (19,000–20,500 lbf), respectively.[60] Range was settled at 5,200 km (2,800 nmi) and 5,800 km (3,100 nmi) for the high gross weights of both variants.[60] Both share a wingspan of 31.0 m (101 ft 8 in)[60] and a flight deck similar to that of the A320 family. Costing $2 billion, €1.85 billion to develop, aircraft production to take place in China.[59]

The A318 originally had dorsal fins to improve handling characteristics, but it is not featured on this Air France A318 (F-GUGC).

Simultaneously, Airbus was developing Airbus A318. In early 1998, Airbus revealed its considerations of designing a 100-seat aircraft based on the A320; by September 1998, the project AE31X terminated, after which Airbus officially announced an aircraft of its own, the A318,[61] at that year's Farnborough Airshow.[62] The aircraft is the smallest, or "baby", of the A320 family, and therefore the smallest Airbus. Ironically, it was developed at the same time as the largest commercial aircraft in history, the Airbus A3XX (later renamed Airbus A380). First called A319M5 in as early as March 1995, it was shorter by 0.79-metre (2 ft 7 in) ahead of the wing and 1.6 metres (5 ft 3 in) behind.[62] These cuts reduced passenger capacity from 124 on the A319 to 107 passengers in a two-class layout.[63] Range was 3,350 kilometres (1,810 nmi), or 6,850 kilometres (3,700 nmi) with upcoming sharklets.[63]

The 107-seater was launched on 26 April 1999 with the options and orders count at 109 aircraft.[62] After three years of design, the maiden flight took place at Hamburg on 15 January 2002.[64] Tests on the lead engine, the Pratt & Whitney PW6000, revealed worse-than-expected fuel consumption.[65] Consequently, Pratt & Whitney abandoned the five-stage high pressure compressor (HPC) for the MTU-designed six-stage HPC. The 129 order book for the A318 shrunk to 80 largely because of switches to other A320 family members.[65] After 17 months of flight certification, during which 850 hours and 350 flights were accumulated, JAA certification was obtained for the CFM56-powered variant on 23 May 2003.[65] On 22 July 2003, first delivery for launch customer Frontier Airlines occurred,[66] entering service before the end of the month.

A320 Enhanced

A320 Enhanced (or A320E) is the working title for a series of improvements of the A320 family. The improvements incorporate engine improvements, aerodynamic refinements, partly by adding large curved winglets,[67] weight savings and a new cabin.[68]

In 2006, Airbus tested three styles of winglet intended to counteract the wing’s induced drag and wingtip vortices more effectively than the previous wingtip fence. The first design type to be tested was developed by Airbus and was based on work done by the AWIATOR programme. The second type of winglet incorporated a more blended design and was designed by Winglet Technology LLC, a company based in Wichita, Kansas as well as the third type. Two aircraft were used in the flight test evaluation campaign – the prototype A320, F-WWBA, which had been retained by Airbus for testing, and the new F-WWDL, which later delivered to JetBlue Airways and registered N636JB; the latter was fitted with both types of winglets.[69][70]

Despite the anticipated efficiency gains and development work, Airbus announced that the new winglets will not be offered to customers, claiming that the weight of the modifications required would negate any aerodynamic benefits.[71] Instead, on 17 December 2008, Airbus announced it was to begin flight testing an existing blended winglet design developed by Aviation Partners as part of an A320 modernisation programme. The aircraft used for the test programme is MSN001 (F-WWBA), the original A320 prototype airframe, powered by CFM56 engines.[72]

Virgin America Airbus A320 economy class Enhanced Cabin with light-emitting diode (LED) lighting.

On 15 November 2009, Airbus announced future additions of Sharklets[73] to A320s commencing in 2012 with launch customer Air New Zealand.[74] These Airbus winglets, which are 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in) tall and weigh 200 kilograms (440 lb),[75] would reduce fuel burn by 3.5% and offer increases in payload of 500 kilograms (1,100 lb), or range by 100 nautical miles (190 km) at the original payload.[76] This corresponds to an annual CO2 reduction of around 700 tonnes per aircraft,[73] saving operators US$220,000 per aircraft per year.[77] The Sharklets are to be manufactured and distributed by Korean Air Aerospace.[78]

The cabin was fitted to more than 600 aircraft (as of March 2009) since 2007. Airbus claims it offers better luggage storage and a quieter cabin, packaged with a more modern look and feel. Additionally, improved cabin efficiency by a new galley concept, reduced weight, improved ergonomics and food hygiene and recycling requirements.[79] LED ambience lighting is optionally available. Anytime LEDs are used for the Passenger Service Unit (PSU)[80] and passengers can get information with touchscreen displays.[81] Older A320 series aircraft can be updated.[82]

New Engine Option

Airbus is working on offering a new engine for the A320 known as the New Engine Option (NEO).[83][84][85] The choice for new engines include the CFM International LEAP-X and the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G.[83] Though the new engines will burn 16% less fuel, the actual fuel gain on an A320 installation will be slightly less, since 1–2% is typically lost upon installation on an existing aircraft. This means an additional range of 950 km (510 nmi), or 2 t (4,400 lb) of extra payload.[86] The A320neo will also include some modifications to the wing, mainly the installation of blended winglets called "Sharklets".[87]

Airbus' CEO said to be "comfortable" with the projections of 20% lower maintenance cost for the Pratt & Whitney's PW1000G family, compared with today's engines.[83] Airbus is targeting 2016 for the first delivery and plans to deliver 4,000 A320neo over 15 years. Virgin America became the launch customer with a firm order of 30 A320neo aircraft as a part of a 60 aircraft order on 17 January 2011.[88] In January 2011 IndiGo reached a tentative agreement with Airbus to order 150 A320neo aircraft along with 30 more A320s.[89][90]

At the Paris Air Show 2011, Airbus announced that they had orders from Scandinavian Airlines System and Air Lease respectively[91] and also from India's low-cost carrier IndiGo.[92] On 23 June 2011, Airbus announced an order for 200 A320neo jets from Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia, the largest commercial aviation order.[93] At the 2011 Paris Air Show, the A320neo received a combined 667 orders; it has received 1,058 orders since officially being launched in December 2010 to become the most popular civil aircraft model. American Airlines ordered 130 NEOs on 20 July 2011, which would cause the airline to cease having an all-Boeing fleet. On 15 November 2011, Qatar Airways announced an order for 50 A320neo airliners with options for 30 more at the Dubai Airshow 2011.[94]


Planform view of an Iberia A320 at takeoff

The Airbus A320 family are narrow-body (single-aisle) aircraft with a retractable tricycle landing gear and are powered by two wing pylon-mounted turbofan engines.


The Airbus A320 family are low-wing cantilever monoplanes with a conventional tail unit with a single vertical stabilizer and rudder. Wing swept back at 25 degrees, optimised for maximum operating Mach number 0.82,[45] built by British Aerospace (BAe). Compared to other airliners of the same class, the A320 features a wider single-aisle cabin of 155.5 inches (3.95 m) outside diameter, compared to 148 inches (3.8 m) of the Boeing 737 and 131.6 inches (3.34 m) of the Boeing 717, and larger overhead bins. In addition, the aircraft has a cargo hold equipped with large doors to assist in expedient loading and unloading of goods.[citation needed]

The Airbus A320 is the first narrow body airliner to use a significant amount of the structure made from composite material. Its tail assembly made virtually of such material by CASA,[95] who also builds the elevators, main landing gear doors, and rear fuselage parts.[95]

Flight deck and avionics

The Airbus A320 family was the first commercial airliner to feature a full glass cockpit and digital fly-by-wire flight control system. The only analogue instruments are the RMI (backup ADI on earlier models, replaced by digital ISIS on later models) and brake pressure indicator.

The A320 was the first civil airliner to include a full digital fly-by-wire flight control system. Its design also included a full glass cockpit rather than the hybrid versions found in other previous airliners. Digital head-up displays are available.[96]

The A320's flight deck is equipped with Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS) with side stick controllers. At the time of the aircraft's introduction, the behaviour of the fly-by-wire system (equipped with full flight envelope protection) was a new experience for many pilots. The A320 features an Electronic Centralised Aircraft Monitor (ECAM) which gives the flight crew information about all the systems of the aircraft. With the exception of the very earliest A320s, most can be upgraded to the latest avionics standards, keeping the aircraft advanced even after two decades in service.[citation needed]

Early A320 planes used the Intel 80186 and Motorola 68010,[97] in 1988 Intel 80286 family CPUs. The flight management computer contained six CPUs, running in three logical pairs, with 2.5 megabytes of memory.[98]

Newer[when?] Airbus feature LCD (liquid crystal display) units in the flight deck of its A318, A319, A320, and A321 flight decks instead of the original CRT (cathode ray tube) displays. These include the main displays and the backup artificial horizon, which was an analogue display prior to this. LCDs weigh less and produce less heat than CRT displays.[citation needed]


Three suppliers provide turbofan engines for the A320 series: CFM International with their CFM56, International Aero Engines, offering the V2500 and Pratt & Whitney whose PW6000 engines are only available for the A318 variant.[99]

A319 left wing during landing. S7 Airlines, Moscow-Pavlodar.

Operational history

The Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) issued the type certificate for the A320 on 26 February 1988. After entering the market in March 1988 with Air France and Ansett, the former Australian domestic airline, Airbus then expanded the A320 family rapidly, launching the 185-seat A321 in 1989 and first delivered it in 1994; launching the 124-seat A319 in 1993 and delivering it in 1996; and launching the 107-seat A318 in 1999 with first deliveries in 2003.[100]


British Airways Airbus A321 takes off from Manchester Airport.

The A320 family was developed to compete against the Boeing 737 Classics (−300/-400/-500) and the McDonnell Douglas MD-80/90 series, and has since faced challenges from the Boeing 737 Next Generation (−600/-700/-800/-900) and the Boeing 717 during its two decades in service. As of 2010, as well as the Boeing 737, the A320 family faces competition from Embraer's E-195 (to the A318), and the CSeries being developed by Bombardier[101] to the A318/A319.

Airbus has shipped 4,858 A320 series aircraft since their certification/first delivery in early 1988, with another 3,255 on firm order (as of 31 October 2011).[1] In comparison, Boeing has shipped 6,943 737s since late 1967, with 5,437 of those deliveries since March 1988, and has a further 2,191 on firm order (as of 31 October 2011).[102] Based on figures since 1988 when they first entered direct competition, Airbus delivered on average 204 A320 series aircraft per annum, while on average 229 Boeing 737s were delivered.

Replacement airliner

Airbus was studying a future replacement for the A320 series, tentatively dubbed NSR, for "New Short-Range aircraft".[103] The follow-on aircraft to replace the A320 was named A30X. Airbus North America President Barry Eccleston states that the earliest the aircraft could be available is 2017.[104] In January 2010, John Leahy, Airbus's Chief Operating Officer Customers, stated that any all new single-aisle aircraft is unlikely to be constructed before 2024/2025.[105]


Airbus A320 variants
ICAO code[106] Model(s)
A318 A318
A319 A319
A320 A320
A321 A321

The baseline A320 has given rise to a family of aircraft which share a common design but with passenger capacity ranges from 100, on the A318,[63] to 220, on the A321.[46] They compete with the Boeing 737, 757–200, and 717. Because the four variants share the same flight deck, all have the same pilot type rating. Today all variants are available as corporate jets. US Airways is the largest airline operator of A320 family of aircraft in North America with 232 as of January 2011.[1]

Technically, the name "A320" only refers to the original mid-sized aircraft, but it is often informally used to indicate any of the A318/A319/A320/A321 family. All variants are able to be ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) certified.


Air France was the launch customer of the Airbus A320

The A320 series has two variants, the A320-100 and A320-200. Only 21 A320-100s were ever produced;[33] these aircraft, the first to be manufactured, were delivered only to Air Inter (later acquired by Air France) and British Airways (as a result of an order from British Caledonian Airways made prior to its acquisition by British Airways). The A320-200 features wingtip fences and increased fuel capacity over the A320-100, resulting in increased range; otherwise differences are minimal. Indian Airlines used their first 31 A320-200s with double-bogie main landing gear for airfields with poor runway condition which a single-bogey main gear couldn't manage. Typical range with 150 passengers for the A320-200 is about 3,300 nautical miles (6,150 km). It is powered by two CFMI CFM56-5s or IAE V2500s with thrust ratings between 113 to 120 kN (25,400 to 27,000 lbf). Since its first delivery in 1988, 2793 A320's have been delivered and 2552 are on order [107]. The direct Boeing competitor is the 737–800. The lowest speed an A320 can fly is approximately 207 km/h.[108]


A Royal Jordanian Airlines A321-200 (JY-AYG) during landing.

The A321 is stretch and first derivative of the standard A320. The variant was launched in 1988,[33] when the A320 began operations. Compared with the A320, the A321's major change is the stretched fuselage, which is lengthened by 6.94 metres (22 ft 9 in) which makes the A321 the largest among the A320 Family.[45][46] This is achieved by adding a front plug immediately forward of wing 4.27 m (14 ft 0 in), and a 2.67 m (8 ft 9 in) rear plug.[109] To maintain performance, double-slotted flaps were included, in addition to increasing the wing area by 4 m2 (43 sq ft), to 128 m2 (1,380 sq ft).[44] Other minor modifications were made to accommodate the A321's 9,600 kg (21,200 lb) increase in maximum takeoff weight, taking the MTOW to 83,000 kg (183,000 lb).[43] The maiden flight of the first of two prototypes came on 11 March 1993.[47] The A321 entered service in 1994.


The A319 is a shortened, minimum-change version of the A320. Also known as the A320M-7 (A320 minus seven rows of seats), it is 3.73 metres (12 ft 3 in) shorter than the A320;[45][52][53] four frames fore and three frames aft were removed. This allows the number of emergency exits to be reduced to six. With virtually the same fuel capacity as the A320-200, and fewer passengers, the range with 124 passengers in a two-class configuration extends to 3,350 km (1,810 nmi), or 6,850 km (3,700 nmi) with Sharklets.[53] Four propulsion options available on the A319 are the 23,040-pound-force (102.5 kN) V2522-A5 and 24,800-pound-force (110 kN) V2527M-A5 from IAE, or the 22,000-pound-force (98 kN) CFM56-5B/A and 27,000-pound-force (120 kN) CFM56-5B7.[56] Although identical to those of the A320, these engines are derated because of the A319's lower MTOW.


The Airbus A318 is the smallest member of the Airbus A320 family. The A318 carries up to 132 passengers and has a maximum range of 3,100 nmi (5,700 km; 3,600 mi). The aircraft entered service in July 2003 with Frontier Airlines, and shares a common type rating with all other Airbus A320 family variants, allowing existing A320 family pilots to fly the aircraft without the need for further training. It is the largest commercial aircraft certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency for steep approach operations, allowing flights at airports such as London City Airport. Relative to other Airbus A320 family variants, the A318 has sold in only small numbers with total orders for only 80 aircraft placed at 28 February 2011.


A programme to convert A320 and A321 aircraft into freighters is being set up by Airbus Freighter Conversion GmbH. Airframes will be converted by EADS EFW in Dresden, Germany, and Zhukovsky, Russia. The launch customer AerCap signed a firm contract on 16 July 2008 to convert 30 of AerCap’s passenger A320/A321s into A320/A321P2F (passenger to freighter).

On June, 3 2011 Airbus however announced all partners would end the passenger to freighter programme, citing high demand for used airframes for passenger service.[110]


Orders and deliveries

Orders Deliveries
Type Total Backlog Total 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992 1991 1990 1989 1988
A318 82 7 75 1 2 6 13 17 8 9 10 9
A319 1,484 169 1,315 43 51 88 98 105 137 142 87 72 85 89 112 88 53 47 18
A320 5,345 2,552 2,793 239 297 221 209 194 164 121 101 119 116 119 101 101 80 58 38 34 48 71 111 119 58 58 16
A321 1,202 527 675 49 51 87 66 51 30 17 35 33 35 49 28 33 35 22 16 22 16
Total 8,113 3,255 4,858 332 401 402 386 367 339 289 233 233 236 257 241 222 168 127 72 56 64 71 111 119 58 58 16

Data through end of October 2011. Updated on 8 November 2011.[1]

Accidents and incidents

For the entire A320 family there have been 18 hull-loss accidents with a total of 789 fatalities as of October 2011.[111][112]

Other occurrences for the A320 include 33 non-fatal incidents such as engine failure, APU fire, runway excursion, and minor collision near gate.[113] There have been 50 incidents of glass cockpit blackout.[114][115][116] There have also been seven incidents of nose gear malfunction, including JetBlue Airways Flight 292.


  • On 12 August 2010 Azerbaijan Airlines Flight 75, A319-111 4K-AZ04, suffered a collapse of the undercarriage when the aircraft departed the runway on landing at Atatürk International Airport, Istanbul, Turkey. The aircraft was substantially damaged but all 127 passengers and crew escaped unharmed.[117]
  • On 24 September 2010 Wind Jet Flight 243, A319-132 EI-EDM, landed short of the runway and broke an undercarriage when the aircraft attempted landing at Palermo Airport, Italy. Preliminary reports name windshear as one possible cause for the accident. The aircraft was seriously damaged but stopped in the grass out of the runway. About 20 passengers were injured.[118]


  • On 26 June 1988 Air France Flight 296, an A320-111, crashed into the tops of trees beyond the runway on a demonstration flight at Mulhouse-Habsheim Airport, France. Three passengers were killed.
  • On 14 February 1990 Indian Airlines Flight 605, an A320-231, carrying 146 people, crashed on its final approach to the Old Airport, Bangalore. 88 passengers and four crew members were killed.[119]
  • On 20 January 1992 Air Inter Flight 148, an A320-111, crashed into a high ridge near Mount Sainte-Odile in the Vosges mountains while on final approach to Strasbourg at the end of a scheduled flight from Lyon. This accident resulted in the deaths of 87 of the aircraft's occupants (five crew members, 82 passengers).
  • On 14 September 1993 Lufthansa Flight 2904, an A320-211, coming from Frankfurt am Main with 70 people, crashed into an earth wall at the end of the runway at Warsaw. A fire started in the left wing area and penetrated into the passenger cabin. The copilot and a passenger died.
  • On 22 March 1998 Philippine Airlines Flight 137, an A320-214, crashed and overran the runway of Bacolod City Domestic Airport, RPVB, in Bacolod, Philippines, plowing through homes near it. None of the passengers or crew died, but many were injured and three on the ground were killed.
  • On 23 August 2000 Gulf Air Flight 072, an A320-212, crashed into the Persian Gulf on approach to Bahrain Airport. All 143 passengers and crew on board lost their lives.
  • On 21 September 2005 JetBlue Airways Flight 292, an A320-232, executed an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) after the nose wheels jammed in an abnormal position. No one was injured.
  • On 3 May 2006 Armavia Flight 967, an A320-211, crashed into the Black Sea while attempting to conduct a go-around following its first approach to Sochi Airport, Russia. All 113 passengers and crew on board lost their lives. The accident was a Pilot error / Controlled flight into terrain accident.[120]
  • On 17 July 2007 TAM Airlines Flight 3054, an A320-233, was not able to stop while landing at Congonhas International Airport in São Paulo, Brazil. As of 2009, the accident was caused by pilot error (by positioning the throttle out of the "idle" position) and by bad weather. All 187 passengers and crew died with 12 fatalities on the ground, totalling 199 people.[121]
  • On 30 May 2008 TACA Flight 390, an A320-233, from San Salvador, overran the runway on its final approach to Toncontín International Airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, with bad weather conditions. At least five fatalities.[122]
  • On 27 November 2008 XL Airways Germany A320 Flight 888T, a check flight of an A320-232 stalled in a low speed test and control could not be regained, causing the aircraft to crash into the sea off the southern French coast. The aircraft was on lease by XL Airways and scheduled to be returned to Air New Zealand. All seven people aboard died.[123][124][125]
US Airways Flight 1549, ditched in the Hudson River in 2009 with all passengers surviving
  • On 15 January 2009 US Airways Flight 1549, an A320-214, en route from New York City LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte, North Carolina, ditched into the Hudson River several minutes after takeoff. All 150 passengers and five crew survived, with only five serious injuries. The accident was due to a collision with a flock of birds which disabled both engines.[126] The entire airframe including the wings is being preserved at the Carolinas Aviation Museum.
  • On 29 August 2011 Gulf Air Flight GF 270, an A320, from Bahrain to Cochin carrying 137 passengers, skidded off the runway during its landing.[127] The heavy rain and wind during the landing is suspected to be the cause of the crash. The aircraft broke one of its wings in the incident and the nose of the plane was damaged, stalling air traffic at the Cochin International Airport for 5 hours. Several passengers were reported to have jumped from the aircraft through emergency exit doors before stairways were brought into place. Seven passengers were injured, including one who was sent to a hospital but not critically injured.[128][129]


  • On 21 March 2003 TransAsia Airways Flight 543, an Airbus A321 (B-22603) on a flight from Taipei Songshan Airport, landed at Tainan Airport and collided with a truck on the runway. The truck went on the runway without noticing the incoming plane. The 175 passengers and crew were uninjured but the two people in the truck were injured. The aircraft was severely damaged in the accident and was written off.[130]
  • On 28 July 2010 Airblue Flight 202, an Airbus A321 flying from Karachi to Islamabad, crashed in Margalla Hills in Islamabad, Pakistan. It is reported that the pilot was instructed to perform a go-around due to traffic on the runway, however due to severe weather in the city, very low visibility was present. 146 passengers and 6 crew members were on board; four flight attendants, a co-pilot and a captain. Pilot Pervez Iqbal Chaudry was one of the senior pilots in Airblue with more than 35 years of experience. There were no survivors in this crash.[131]
  • On 16 June 2011 Asiana Airlines Flight 324 operated by Airbus A321-200 HL7763 between Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, China and Incheon International Airport, South Korea was fired upon by two soldiers of the South Korean Army as it came in to land at Incheon. A total of 99 rounds were discharged at the aircraft, which was out of range and made a safe landing without sustaining any damage. The soldiers had misidentified the aircraft as belonging to the North Korean military, and were acting on orders that gave them permission to engage without reference to senior officers, following the Bombardment of Yeonpyeong in November 2010.[132]


Airbus A320 family
A318-100 A319-100 / A319LR /A319CJ A320-200 A321-200
Cockpit crew Two
Seating capacity 132 (1-class, maximum)
117 (1-class, typical)
107 (2-class, typical)
156 (1-class, maximum)
134 (1-class, typical)
124 (2-class, typical)
180 (1-class, maximum)
164 (1-class, typical)
150 (2-class, typical)
220 (1-class, maximum)
199 (1-class, typical)
185 (2-class, typical)
Seat Pitch 29 in (74 cm) & 30 in (76 cm) (1-class, maximum)
32 in (81 cm) (1-class, typical)
38 in (97 cm) & 32 in (81 cm) (2-class, typical)
28 in (71 cm) & 30 in (76 cm) (1-class, maximum)
32 in (81 cm) (1-class, typical)
36 in (91 cm) & 32 in (81 cm) (2-class, typical)
28 in (71 cm) & 29 in (74 cm) (1-class, maximum)
32 in (81 cm) (1-class, typical)
36 in (91 cm) & 32 in (81 cm) (2-class, typical)
Cargo capacity 21.21 m3 (749 cu ft) 27.62 m3 (975 cu ft)
4× LD3-46
37.41 m3 (1,321 cu ft)
7× LD3-46
51.73 m3 (1,827 cu ft)
10× LD3-46
Length 31.44 m (103 ft 2 in) 33.84 m (111 ft 0 in) 37.57 m (123 ft 3 in) 44.51 m (146 ft 0 in)
Wingspan 34.10 m (111 ft 11 in)
Wing area 122.6 m2 (1,320 sq ft)
Wing sweepback 25 degrees
Tail height 12.51 m (41 ft 1 in) 11.76 m (38 ft 7 in)
Cabin width 3.70 m (12 ft 2 in)
Fuselage width 3.95 m (13 ft 0 in)
Operating empty weight 39,500 kg (87,000 lb) 40,800 kg (90,000 lb) 42,600 kg (94,000 lb) 48,500 kg (107,000 lb)
Maximum zero-fuel weight (MZFW) 54,500 kg (120,000 lb) 58,500 kg (129,000 lb) 62,500 kg (138,000 lb) 73,800 kg (163,000 lb)
Maximum take-off weight (MTOW) 68 t (150,000 lb) 75.5 t (166,000 lb) 78 t (170,000 lb) 93.5 t (206,000 lb)
Cruising speed Mach 0.78 (828 km/h/511 mph at 11,000 m/36,000 ft)
Maximum speed Mach 0.82 (871 km/h/537 mph at 11,000 m/36,000 ft)
Maximum range, fully loaded 3,100 nmi (5,700 km; 3,600 mi) 3,600 nmi (6,700 km; 4,100 mi)
LR: 5,600 nmi (10,400 km; 6,400 mi)
CJ: 6,500 nmi (12,000 km; 7,500 mi)
3,200 nmi (5,900 km; 3,700 mi) 3,000 nmi (5,600 km; 3,500 mi)
Take off run at MTOW (sea level, ISA) 1,828 m (5,997 ft) 2,164 m (7,100 ft) 2,090 m (6,860 ft) 2,560 m (8,400 ft)
Maximum fuel capacity 24,210 L (5,330 imp gal; 6,400 US gal) 24,210 L (5,330 imp gal; 6,400 US gal) standard
30,190 L (6,640 imp gal; 7,980 US gal) optional
24,050 L (5,290 imp gal; 6,350 US gal) standard
30,030 L (6,610 imp gal; 7,930 US gal) optional
Service ceiling 12,000 m (39,000 ft)
Engines (×2) Pratt & Whitney PW6000 series or
CFM International CFM56-5 series
IAE V2500 series or
CFM International CFM56-5 series
Thrust (×2) 96–106 kN (22,000–24,000 lbf) 98–120 kN (22,000–27,000 lbf) 111–120 kN (25,000–27,000 lbf) 133–147 kN (30,000–33,000 lbf)

Source: Airbus,[45][46][53][63][133],[134][135][136][137] Pratt & Whitney[138]

Aer Lingus A320-200 at Belfast International Airport


Aircraft Model Date Engines
A318-111 2003 CFM56-5B8/P
A318-112 2003 CFM56-5B9/P
A318-121 2007 PW6122A
A318-122 2007 PW6124A
A319-111 1996 CFM56-5B5 or 5B5/P
A319-112 1997 CFM56-5B6 or 5B6/P or 5B6/2P
A319-113 1997 CFM56-5A4 or 5A4/F
A319-114 1997 CFM56-5A5 or 5A5/F
A319-115 2002 CFM56-5B7 or 5B7/P
A319-131 1997 IAE Model V2522-A5
A319-132 1997 IAE Model V2524-A5
A319-133 2002 IAE Model V2527M-A5
A320-111 1988 CFM56-5A1 or 5A1/F
A320-211 1988 CFM56-5A1 or 5A1/F
A320-212 1990 CFM56-5A3
A320-214 1996 CFM56-5B4 or 5B4/P or 5B4/2P
A320-216 2005 CFM56-5B6
A320-231 1989 IAE Model V2500-A1
A320-232 1993 IAE Model V2527-A5
A320-233 1995 IAE Model V2527E-A5
A321-111 1995 CFM56-5B1 or 5B1/P or 5B1/2P
A321-112 1995 CFM56-5B2 or 5B2/P
A321-131 1995 IAE Model V2530-A5
A321-211 1997 CFM56-5B3 or 5B3/P or 5B3/2P
A321-212 2005 CFM56-5B1 or 5B1/P or 5B1/2P
A321-213 2005 CFM56-5B2 or 5B2/P
A321-231 1997 IAE Model V2533-A5
A321-232 2005 IAE Model V2530-A5

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


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