Airbus Launches A320neo

 - December 1, 2010, 5:39 AM

After many months of consultation and analysis, Airbus today announced the official launch of new engine options for the A320 series. Dubbed the A320neo, the project involves the introduction of two new engine choices for the single-aisle airliners–either CFM’s Leap-X or Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1100G, formerly known as the Geared Turbofan. The new engine option also incorporates fuel-saving wingtip devices called sharklets. Airbus expects to deliver the first examples of the A320neo in the spring of 2016. 

The company claims that, compared with the existing A320, the A320neo will deliver fuel savings of up to 15 percent, a “double-digit” reduction in NOx emissions, less engine noise, lower operating costs and either a range improvement of 500 nm or a payload increase of two metric tons. The sharklet wingtip devices, the first of which Airbus plans to fit on standard A320s for delivery starting near the end of 2012, will account for at least 3.5 percent fuel burn savings over long sectors, according to the company. Airbus estimates the total fuel savings will cut annual CO2 output by up to 3,600 metric tons per airplane. It sees a market for 4,000 A320neos over the next 15 years.   

The formal introduction of the A320neo comes some 10 months after Airbus COO for customers John Leahy publicly targeted the Farnborough airshow as the venue for a possible launch announcement. After the show came and went without a decision from Airbus, the target shifted to early this past fall. Again, Airbus demurred, citing the need for a firmer grasp of the engineering resources available for the project. 

“Finding the necessary resources for the A320neo wasn’t exactly a walk in the park,” said Airbus president and CEO Tom Enders. “The enabler was to devise a stringent phasing of critical engineering assets throughout our various development programs and to optimize the management and organization of all our programs and R&T projects. Our international engineering centers, suppliers and partners play a big role in this.”  

Airbus has decided not to offer the new engine option on the smallest member of the A320 series–the slow selling A318. The new engine option will require limited modifications to the other three models, primarily to the wing and pylon areas, said Airbus. The A320neo will maintain 95 percent airframe commonality with the standard A320 series, the company added.