Airbus has rescheduled plans to address perceived airline requirements for more-efficient single-aisle jetliners. To take advantage of emerging new “open rotor” engine technologies, it has extended beyond 2030 the time frame in which an all-new “A30X” replacement for the A320 might appear. Meanwhile, stimulated by strong initial market interest, Airbus hopes to introduce re-engined variants of the narrowbody, the A320neo (new engine option), six or more months earlier than previously suggested.
The European manufacturer has concluded that the business case for a clean-sheet A320-replacement cannot be made before 2030–and possibly not until 2035. That would give the established current design a potential manufacturing period of some 42 years, “the longest continuous production run in history,” claimed John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer (customers).
The A320neo, formally launched last December, now is planned to enter service in October 2015, compared with the second quarter of 2016, as scheduled in past announcements. Airbus confirmed Wednesday its selection of the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G geared turbofan (GTF) as the lead development powerplant.
The manufacturer expects A319neo and A321neo models to each account for an initial 25-percent market share alongside the A320neo’s 50 percent, but acknowledges that this three-way split could change as the program matures. It does not see a ready market requirement for an A318neo variant, which Tom Williams, Airbus executive vice president (programs), characterized as a “niche product.” By “niche,” he is probably referring to the A318’s use as a business jet.
With some 332 “commitments” already, Leahy claimed the A320neo is “the fastest selling aircraft in history,” and that it will have more than 500 commitments by the Paris Air Show in June. He said he expects pending deals soon from operators in Asia/Pacific, Europe and Latin America.