The A320 family of aircraft are configured as a low wing monoplane sporting a cantilevered wing with a sweep back of 25 degrees. The single-aisle narrow-body jet is powered by two
engines located one under each wing. The A320 specifications make it a direct competitor to the Boeing 737 family of aircraft, as well as the McDonnell Douglas MD80/90.
The A320 was the first narrow body airliner to use an appreciable amount of composite materials in its construction. The tail, manufactured by CASA is in fact made up mostly of such materials. Composite materials are a combination of several different materials brought together to form something stronger and often lighter than any of the original components on their own.
To make the A320 more attractive to passengers, and therefore airlines, Airbus decided to make a wider cabin than their competitors. With an outside cabin diameter of 3.95 metres (12 feet 11.5 inches), which stacks up well against the Boeing 737 at 3.8 Metres (12 feet 4 inches) or the Boeing 717 with 3.34 metres (10 feet 11.6 inches). In addition, they made a larger cargo door so that loading and unloading of luggage or cargo could be performed faster assisting with quick turnaround times at airports.
As has been mentioned on previous pages, the A320 was the second commercial aircraft to use “Fly by Wire” technology, after Concorde. This system of digitised flight control systems, allows the pilot to input to the control surfaces using a side control joystick, as opposed to the accepted quadrant method with a joystick or half wheel located in front of the pilot. This system was already in use in some fighter jets, but this was the first time it was employed in a commercial airliner. Fly by Wire goes beyond the mere control of flight surfaces. It is a computer-based technology that is designed to protect the aircraft through flight envelope protection by preventing pilots from being able to put the aircraft in configurations or attitudes that compromised flight safety. Through the Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS), which features a full glass cockpit, once again the first commercial airliner to be so equipped, the Electronic Centralised Aircraft Monitor (ECAM) displays information on all aircraft systems. This makes the pilot’s job much easier with all the information in a central location. The early A320s were equipped with Intel 80186 and Motorola 68010 computer processors and in 1988 moved on to the Intel 80286. Each flight management computer had six processors arranged in three pairs. As well as the benefits of simplified control, system redundancy, weight-saving and safety, it is very simple to upgrade these systems and keep the aircraft advanced even after a decade or two.
….large winglets which Airbus refer to as Sharklets…..
In an effort to keep improving their narrow-body workhorse, Airbus now has on offer the A320 NEO (New Engine Option) as opposed to the A320 CEO (Current Engine Option). As part of the modernisation program started in 2006, Airbus has been working on the A320E (Enhanced) of which the New Engine Option is the last step. The enhancements include aerodynamic improvements, large winglets which Airbus refer to as Sharklets, larger luggage bins, new look cabin, weight savings and the choice of two new engine types; the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G or the CFM International LEAP-1A. The benefits of these combined improvements deliver an 8% improvement in operating costs derived from a 15% improvement in fuel consumption and the ability to carry around 20 more passengers through a re-arrangement of the cabin. In addition, operators can expect a 500 nautical mile increase in range.
All these enhancements will make the already popular aircraft even more attractive. So-called Low-Cost Carriers who already predominantly use the A320 will find even more to their liking in the more economical version of the A320. Larger luggage bins will also aid them with quick turnarounds at airports as passengers opt to take smaller carry-on bags into the cabin to try and avoid unbundled fares which require them to pay for baggage. Passengers will also enjoy the improved air purification system which will enable them to arrive more refreshed.
In the Specs table below, the figures relate to the Airbus A320 CEO(Current Engine Option). Where applicable we have added figures for the Airbus A320 NEO(New Engine Option) in brackets.
(NEO 6,950 KM (3,750 NM))
(NEO 6,500 KM (3,500 NM))
(NEO 7,400 KM (4,000 NM))
|Seating (Typical)||107||124 (NEO 140)
||150 (NEO 165)
||185 (NEO 190)
|Length||31.44 Metres (103ft 2in)||33.84 Metres (111ft 0in)||37.57 Metres (123ft 3in)||44.51 Metres (146ft 0in)|
|Wing Sweep Back|
|Tail Height||12.51 Metres (41ft 1in)||11.76 Metres (38ft 7in)||11.76 Metres (38ft 7in)||11.76 Metres (38ft 7in)|
|Freight Capacity||21.21 Cubic Metres (749
|27.62 Cubic Metres (975
|37.41 Cubic Metres
(1,321 cu ft)
|51.73 Cubic Metres
(1,827 cu ft)
|Maximum Operating Speed||
|Operating Empty Weight
|39,500 kg (87,100 lb)||40,800 kg (89,900 lb)
(NEO 42,600 kg (93,900 lb))
|42,600 kg (93,900 lb)
(NEO 44,300 kg (97,700 lb))
|48,500 kg (106,900 lb)
(NEO 50,100 kg (110,500 lb))
|Maximum Zero Fuel
|54,500 kg (120,200 lb)||58,500 kg (129,000 lb)||62,500 kg (137,800 lb)||73,800 kg (162,700 lb)|
|57,500 kg (127,000 lb)||62,500 kg (138,000 lb)||66,000 kg (146,000 lb)||77,800 kg (172,000 lb)|
|68,000 kg (150,000 lb)
||75,500 kg (166,000 lb)
(NEO 75,500 kg (166,400 lb))
|78,000 kg (172,000 lb)
(NEO 79,000 kg (174,200 lb))
|93,500 kg (206,000 lb)
(NEO 97,000 kg (213,800 lb))
|Takeoff Distance(Sea Level ISA)MTOW||1,828 Metres (5,997 Feet)||2,164 Metres (7,100 Feet)||2,090 Metres (6,860 Feet)||2,560 Metres (8,400 Feet)|
|Landing Distance(Sea Level ISA)MLW||1,400 Metres (4,593 Feet)||1,500 Metres (4,921 Feet)|
|Thrust x 2||
(NEO 107 kN (24,100 lbf))
(NEO 120.6 kN (27,120 lbf))
(NEO 147.3 kN (33,110 lbf))
If there is more you want to learn about this airliner, please visit A320 Home, A320 Assembly, A320 Interior, A320 Order Book and A320 History.
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