Airbus A320 family

"A320" redirects here. For the British road, see A320 road.
A320 family
Lufthansa A320-211 on 7 February 2011
Role Narrow-body jet airliner
National origin Multi-national[1]
Manufacturer Airbus
First flight 22 February 1987
Introduction 18 April 1988 with Air France[2]
Status In service
Primary users American Airlines[lower-alpha 1]
Produced 1986–present
Number built 7,297 as of 31 October 2016[4]
Unit cost
  • 2016 prices:[5]
  • A318: US$75.1 (€69.1) million
  • A319: US$89.6 (€82.4) million
  • A320: US$98.0 (€90.2) million
  • A321: US$114.9 (€105.7) million
Variants Airbus A318
Airbus A319
Airbus A321
Developed into Airbus A320neo family

The Airbus A320 family consists of short- to medium-range, narrow-body, commercial passenger twin-engine jet airliners manufactured by Airbus. The family includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, as well as the ACJ business jet. The A320s are also named A320ceo (current engine option) after the introduction of the A320neo.[6] Final assembly of the family takes place in Toulouse, France, and Hamburg, Germany. A plant in Tianjin, China, has also been producing aircraft for Chinese airlines since 2009,[7] while a final assembly facility in Mobile, Alabama delivered its first A321 in April 2016.[8] 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 March 1988. The family was 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. There has been a continuous improvement process since introduction.

As of 31 October 2016, a total of 7,297 Airbus A320-family aircraft have been delivered, of which 6,982 are in service. In addition, another 5,494 airliners are on firm order.[4] 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.[9][10] The A320 family has proved popular with airlines including low-cost carriers such as EasyJet, which purchased A319s and A320s to replace its 737 fleet. As of 31 October 2016, American Airlines was the largest operator of the Airbus A320 family aircraft, operating 374 aircraft.[lower-alpha 2][4] The aircraft family competes directly with the 737 and has competed with the 717, 757, and the MD-80/MD-90.

In December 2010, Airbus announced a new generation of the A320 family, the A320neo (new engine option).[11] The A320neo offers new, more efficient engines, combined with airframe improvements and the addition of winglets, named Sharklets by Airbus. The aircraft will deliver fuel savings of up to 15%. As of January 2016, a total of 4,508 A320neo family aircraft had been ordered by more than 70 airlines, making it the fastest ever selling commercial aircraft.[12] The first A320neo was delivered to Lufthansa on 20 January 2016 and it entered service on 25 January 2016.[13][14]



When Airbus designed the Airbus A300 during the late 1960s and early 1970s, it envisaged 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.[15] 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.[16] A 10th variation, conceived in 1973, later the first to be constructed, was designated the A300B10.[17] 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 737 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9.

Air Inter A320-100 in 1991, one of the few A320-100s

Plans from a number of European aircraft manufacturers called for a successor to the relatively successful BAC One-Eleven, and to replace the 737–200 and DC-9.[18] Germany's MBB (Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm), British Aircraft Corporation, Sweden's Saab and Spain's CASA worked on the EUROPLANE, a 180- to 200-seat aircraft.[18][19] It was abandoned after intruding on A310 specifications.[20] VFW-Fokker, Dornier and Hawker Siddeley worked on a number of 150-seat designs.[18]

Alongside BAe (which at the time was not part of Airbus) were MBB, Fokker-VFW and Aérospatiale. The design within the JET study that was carried forward was the JET2 (163 passengers), which then became the Airbus S.A1/2/3 series (Single Aisle), before settling on the A320 name for its launch in 1984. Previously, Hawker Siddeley had produced a design called the HS.134 "Airbus" in 1965, an evolution of the HS.121 (formerly DH.121) Trident,[21] which shared much of the general arrangement of the later JET3 study design. The name "Airbus" at the time referred to a BEA requirement, rather than to the later international programme.

Design effort

A new programme was initiated subsequently, called Joint European Transport (JET). This was set up in June 1977,[22] and was based at the then British Aerospace (formerly Vickers) site in Weybridge, Surrey, UK. Although the members were all of Airbus' partners, they regarded the project as a separate collaboration from Airbus.[23] This project was considered the forerunner of Airbus A320, encompassing the 130- to 188-seat market, powered by two CFM56s.[18] It would have a cruise speed of Mach 0.84 (faster than Boeing 737).[18] 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.[24] The group looked at three different variants, covering the 125- to 180-seat market, called SA1, SA2 and SA3.[18] Although unaware at the time, the consortium was producing the blueprints for the A319, A320 and A321, respectively.[25] 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.[18][26] However, works proceeded, and the German carrier would eventually order the twinjet.

In February 1981, the project was re-designated A320,[25] 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.[25] The Dash 200 had more fuel through the activation of centre fuel tank, increasing fuel capacity from 15,590 litres (3,429 imp gal) to 23,430 L (5,154 imp gal),[27] enabling flights with a distance of 2,850 nmi (5,280 km).[25] The aircraft would measure 36.04 m (118 ft 3 in) and 39.24 m (128 ft 9 in), respectively.[25] 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".[18] It eventually settled on a wider diameter, with the internal width at 3.7 m (12 ft 2 in),[18] compared to 3.45 m (11 ft 4 in)[18] 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 m (111 ft 3 in).[27] It is long and thin, offering better aerodynamic efficiency because of the higher aspect ratio than the competition, namely the 737 and MD-80.

The cockpit of the A321 is similar to that of the A318, A319 and A320. This layout would be incorporated into the A330, A340, A350 and A380. This "commonality" enables pilots to quickly transition among these aircraft.

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,[28] although it was previously successfully proven on military fighter aircraft,[28] such as the Vought F-8 Crusader. Aside from associated reduction in weight and cost, this system would provide flight envelope protection.[29] 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,[30] such as the Airbus A330, A340, A380, and the A350. It would feature side-stick control for the first time on a commercial aircraft. Bernard Ziegler, son of the former Airbus CEO, Henri Ziegler, was the initiator of the aircraft's revolutionary fly-by-wire flight controls with side-stick cockpit controller and full glass cockpit. He successfully convinced aviation authorities of the concept's validity.[31]

During the A320 development programme, Airbus considered propfan technology, backed by Lufthansa.[32] 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).[27] 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 Engine 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),[33] hence the name, and is marginally more efficient than the CFM56, with specific fuel consumption at 0.560 lb/(lbf·h), compared to 0.591 lb/(lbf·h) of the CFM56.[34]

Production and testing

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

Production of the A320 was postponed for 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",[35] driven by, apart from money, prestige.[35] The Germans requested an increased work-share of 40%,[35] while the British wanted the major responsibilities to be swapped around to give partners production and research and development (R&D) experience.[35] In the end, British work-share was increased from that of the two previous Airbuses,[35] 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.[36] The UK government, on the other hand, was unwilling to provide funding for the tooling requested by British Aerospace (BAe). Estimated at 250 million, it was postponed for three years until 1 March 1984,[27] 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 on each aircraft sold.[37]

The programme was launched the following day[38] 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.[28] However, British Caledonian was the first to place a firm order for seven back in October 1983.[39] Cyprus Airways became the first to place order for V2500-powered A320s in November 1984.[40] Pan Am also selected V2500 when it requested 16 firm orders and 34 options in January 1985, as did Inex Adria.[39] 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 engines.[41]

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.[42][43] A number of high-profile figures were present, including the Prince and Princess of Wales.[44] The first flight came on 22 February,[43] during which the aircraft flew for 3 hours 23 minutes.[38] The flight marked the beginning of a flight test programme involving 1,200 airborne hours on 530 flights.[42] European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) certification was received on 26 February 1988.[42] The first A320 delivery was to Air France on 26 March 1988.[42]

On 26 June 1988, a chartered Air France Airbus A320-111 (F-GFKC)[45] crashed into trees at the end of runway at Mulhouse-Habsheim Airport. Three out of 130 passengers were killed.[45] In February 1990 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.[46] The press and media later questioned the fly-by-wire flight control system.[45] 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" .[45]

An Airbus A321 on final assembly line 3 in the Airbus plant at Hamburg Finkenwerder Airport

In 2009, Airbus required about eight months to build one A320.[47] Components from various Airbus plants are transported to the final assembly plant at Hamburg Finkenwerder for the A318/A319/A320/A321[48] 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, China.[49]

Airbus produces 42 A320 per month in 2015, and expects to increase to 50 per month in 2017, and possibly 60.[50]

Stretching the A320: A321

Airbus A32X family

The first derivative of the A320 was the Airbus A321, also known as the Stretched A320, A320-500 and A325.[42][51] Its launch came on 24 November 1988 after commitments for 183 aircraft from 10 customers were secured.[42][52] 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,[53] increasing the wing area from 124 m2 (1,330 sq ft) to 128 m2 (1,380 sq ft).[54] 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.[53][55][56] The length increase required the overwing exits of the A320 to be enlarged and repositioned in front of and behind the wings.[57] The centre fuselage and undercarriage were reinforced to accommodate the increase in maximum takeoff weight of 9,600 kg (21,200 lb), taking it to 83,000 kg (183,000 lb).[53]

Alitalia was the second to receive the stretched A321, after Lufthansa.[57]

Final assembly for the A321 would be, as a first for any Airbus, carried out in Germany (then West Germany).[58] 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,[59] 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 subsequently 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.[45] An additional $180 million (€175 million) was borrowed from European Investment Bank and private investors.[60]

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.[57] Lufthansa and Alitalia were the first to order the stretched Airbuses, with 20 and 40 aircraft requested, respectively.[57] The first of Lufthansa's V2500-A5-powered A321s arrived on 27 January 1994, while Alitalia received its first CFM56-5B-powered aircraft on 22 March.[57]

Shrinking the A320: A319

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.[59] The SA1 was shelved as the consortium concentrated on its bigger siblings. After healthy sales of the A320/A321, Airbus re-focused on what was then known as the A320M-7, meaning A320 minus seven fuselage frames.[61] It would provide direct competition for the 737–300/-700.[59] The shrink was achieved through the removal of four fuselage frames fore and three aft of the wing, cutting the overall length by 3.73 metres (12 ft 3 in).[55][62][63] Consequently, the number of overwing exits was reduced from four to two. The bulk-cargo door was replaced by an aft container door, which can take in reduced height LD3-45 containers.[62] Minor software changes 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.[64]

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 of the $275 million (€250 million) programme occurring on 10 June 1993;[62][65][66] the A319's first customer was ILFC, who signed for six aircraft. On 23 March 1995, the first A319 underwent final assembly at Airbus' German plant in Hamburg, where the A321s are also assembled. It was rolled out on 24 August 1995, with the maiden flight the following day.[67] 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.[68]

Delivery of the first A319, to Swissair, took place on 25 April 1996, entering service by month's end.[68] In January 1997, an A319 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.[68] The A319 has proved popular with low-cost airlines such as EasyJet, who has orders for 172, with 172 delivered.[4]

Second shrink: A318

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 covered the 95-seat AE316 and 115- to 125-seat AE317.[69] The former would have had an overall length of 31.3 m (102 ft 8 in), while the AE317 was longer by 3.2 m (10 ft 6 in), at 34.5 m (113 ft 2 in).[70] The engines were to be supplied from two Rolls-Royce BR715s, CFM56-9s, or the Pratt & Whitney PW6000s;[69][70] with the MTOW of 53.3 t (118,000 lb) for the smaller version and 58 t (128,000 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.[70] 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.[70] Both share a wingspan of 31.0 m (101 ft 8 in)[70] 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.[69]

A British Airways A318 at London City Airport

Simultaneously, Airbus was developing Airbus A318. In early 1998, Airbus revealed its considerations of designing a 100-seat aircraft based on the A320. The AE31X project was terminated by September 1998, after which Airbus officially announced an aircraft of its own, the A318,[71] at that year's Farnborough Airshow.[72] The aircraft is the smallest product of Airbus's product range, and was developed coincidentally at the same time as the largest commercial aircraft in history, the 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.[72] These cuts reduced passenger capacity from 124 on the A319 to 107 passengers in a two-class layout.[73] Range was 5,700 kilometres (3,100 nmi), or 5,950 kilometres (3,210 nmi) with upcoming Sharklets.[73]

The 107-seater was launched on 26 April 1999 with the options and orders count at 109 aircraft.[72] After three years of design, the maiden flight took place at Hamburg on 15 January 2002.[74] Tests on the lead engine, the Pratt & Whitney PW6000, revealed worse-than-expected fuel consumption.[75] 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.[75] 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.[75] On 22 July 2003, first delivery for launch customer Frontier Airlines occurred,[76] entering service before the end of the month.

A320 Enhanced family

Air New Zealand Airbus A320 Enhanced (A320E) with Sharklets

A320 Enhanced family (or A320E family) is the working title for a series of improvements to the A320 family. The improvements include engine improvements, aerodynamic refinements – such as adding large curved winglets (Sharklets), weight savings, and a new cabin design.[77][78]

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, a company based in Wichita, Kansas. Two aircraft were used in the flight test evaluation campaign – the prototype A320, which had been retained by Airbus for testing, and a new build aircraft which was fitted with both types of winglets before it was delivered to JetBlue.

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.[79] Instead, on 17 December 2008, Airbus announced it was to begin flight testing an existing blended winglet design developed by Aviation Partners Inc. as part of an A320 modernisation programme using the A320 prototype.[80]

Virgin America Airbus A320 Enhanced economy class Cabin with LED lighting

On 15 November 2009, Airbus announced future additions of Sharklets[81] to A320s beginning in 2012 with Air New Zealand.[82] These Airbus winglets, which are 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in) tall and weigh 200 kilograms (440 lb),[83] would reduce fuel burn by 4% and offer increases in payload of 500 kg (1,100 lb), or range by 110 nmi (204 km) at the original payload.[84] This corresponds to an annual CO2 reduction of around 700 t (690 long tons) per aircraft,[81] saving operators US$220,000 per aircraft per year.[85] The Sharklets are to be manufactured and distributed by Korean Air Aerospace Division.[86]

Since 2007 the cabin was fitted to more than 600 aircraft as of March 2009. Airbus says it offers better luggage storage and a quieter cabin, packaged with a more modern look and feel. Additionally, improved cabin efficiency from a new galley concept, reduced weight, improved ergonomics and food hygiene, and recycling requirements.[87] LED ambiance lighting is optionally available. Anytime LEDs are used for the Passenger Service Unit (PSU)[88] and passengers can get information with touchscreen displays.[89] Older A320 series aircraft can be updated.[90]

New Engine Option: A320neo

Main article: Airbus A320neo family

Airbus developed a new version of the A320, called A320neo, for new engine option, based on more efficient engines, at least partly in response to the threat posed by Bombardier Aerospace's development of the CSeries airliner, with which Bombardier hoped to compete directly with Boeing and Airbus for the first time.[91][92][93][94][95] The choice for new engines include the CFM International LEAP-1A and the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G.[93] 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.[96] The A320neo will also include some modifications to the wing, mainly the installation of blended winglets called "Sharklets".[97]

First Airbus A320neo in 2014

Airbus' CEO said to be "comfortable" with the projections of 20% lower maintenance cost for the Pratt & Whitney's PW1000G family, compared with engines powering the A320.[93] In 2011, Airbus targeted early 2016 for the first delivery and planned 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.[98] In January 2011 IndiGo reached a tentative agreement with Airbus to order 150 A320neo aircraft along with 30 more A320s.[99]

At the 2011 Paris Air Show, Airbus announced firm orders from GECAS, Scandinavian Airlines, TransAsia Airways, LAN Airlines and GoAir[100] along with major orders from Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo for 150 aircraft[101] and Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia for 200 A320neo, the largest commercial aviation order at the time.[102] In total the A320neo received a combined 667 commitments worth US$60.9 billion.[103] American Airlines placed an order 130 A320neo airliners on 20 July 2011. By the end of 2011, Airbus had received 1,196 firm orders for the A320neo family making it the fastest selling commercial aircraft in history.[104] On 15 March 2013, it was reported that Turkish Airlines had placed a firm order for 82 A320 aircraft with 35 options; the firm order has 25 A321, four A320neo, and 53 A321neo airliners.[105]


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 is the only narrow-body aircraft from Airbus.


A Spirit A320 being refueled and loaded with luggage

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.[55] Compared to other airliners of the same class, the A320 features a wider single-aisle cabin of 3.95 metres (156 in)[55] outside diameter, compared to 148 inches (3.8 m) of the 737 and 131.6 inches (3.34 m) of the 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.

The Airbus A320 is the first narrow body airliner to have a significant amount of its structure made from composite material. Its tail assembly made almost entirely of such material by CASA,[106] who also builds the elevators, main landing gear doors, and rear fuselage parts.[106]

Flight deck and avionics

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 previous airliners. Digital head-up displays are available.[107]

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'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.

Early A320 planes used the Intel 80186 and Motorola 68010,[108] in 1988 Intel 80286 family CPUs. The flight management computer contained six CPUs, running in three logical pairs, with 2.5 megabytes of memory.[109]

Newer 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 analog display prior to this.


Three suppliers provide turbofan engines for the A320 series: CFM International with its CFM56, International Aero Engines, offering the V2500 and Pratt & Whitney whose PW6000 engines are only available for the A318 variant.[110]

Operational history

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

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.[111]


The A320 family was developed to compete with the 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 717 during its two decades in service. As of 2010, as well as the 737, the A320 family faces competition from Embraer's E-195 (to the A318), and the CSeries being developed by Bombardier[112] to the A318/A319.

Airbus has delivered 7,297 A320 series aircraft since their certification/first delivery in early 1988, with another 5,494 on firm order (as of 31 October 2016).[4] In comparison, Boeing has shipped 9,247 737s since late 1967, with 7,741 of those deliveries since March 1988,[113] and has a further 4,321 on firm order (as of 31 October 2016).[114]

Replacement airliner

Airbus was studying a future replacement for the A320 series, tentatively dubbed NSR, for "New Short-Range aircraft".[117] The follow-on aircraft to replace the A320 was named A3XX. Airbus North America President Barry Eccleston states that the earliest the aircraft could be available is 2017.[118] 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.[119]


For the Airbus A320neo or New Engine Option variants, see Airbus A320neo family § Variants.
Airbus A320 variants
ICAO code[120]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,[73] to 220, on the A321.[56] They compete with the 737, 757, 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. American Airlines is the world's largest airline operator of the A320 family of aircraft with 374 airframes in service as of 31 October 2016.[4]

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 for 180 minutes since 2004 (EASA) and 2006 (FAA).[121] With launch of the new Airbus A320neo project, the previous members of the Airbus A320 family received the "current engine option" or "CEO" name.


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 produced;[42] these aircraft, the first to be manufactured, were only delivered 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). Compared to the A320-100, the primary changes on A320-200 are wingtip fences and increased fuel capacity for increased range. Indian Airlines used its first 31 A320-200s with double-bogie main landing gear for airfields with poor runway condition which a single-bogie main gear could not manage. Typical range with 150 passengers for the A320-200 is about 3,300 nmi (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). The lowest speed an A320 can fly is approximately 207 km/h.[122]

A total of 4,333 of the A320ceo model have been delivered, with 354 remaining on order as of 31 October 2016.[4] The direct Boeing competitor is the 737-800.


Main article: Airbus A321
An Austrian Airlines Airbus A321

The Airbus A321 is a stretched first derivative of the standard A320. The variant was launched in 1988,[42] 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); the A321 is the largest of the A320 family.[55][56] This is achieved by adding a 4.27 m (14 ft 0 in) front plug immediately forward of wing, and a 2.67 m (8 ft 9 in) rear plug.[123] 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).[54] Other minor modifications were made to accommodate the A321-100's 9,600 kg (21,200 lb) increase in maximum takeoff weight to 83,000 kg (183,000 lb).[53] The maiden flight of the first of two prototypes came on 11 March 1993.[57] The A321-100 entered service in January 1994 with Lufthansa.

The basic A321-100 features a reduction in range compared to the A320 as extra fuel tankage was not added to the initial design to compensate for the extra weight. Consequently, Airbus launched the heavier and longer range A321-200 development in 1995 which has a full-passenger transcontinental US range. This is achieved through higher thrust engines (V2533-A5 or CFM56-5B3), minor structural strengthening, and an increase in fuel capacity with the installation of one or two optional 2,990 L (790 US gal) tanks in the rear underfloor hold.[124] The additional fuel tankage increases the total capacity of this model to 30,030 L (7,930 US gal). These modifications also increased the maximum takeoff weight of the A321-200 to 93,000 kg (205,000 lb). This variant first flew in December 1996, and entered service with Monarch Airlines in April 1997. Its direct competitors include the 757–200 and the 737-900/900ER.

A total of 1,395 of the A321ceo model have been delivered, with 333 remaining on order as of 31 October 2016.[4]


Main article: Airbus A319
A Lufthansa Airbus A319

The A319 is a shortened, minimum-change version of the A320. Also known as the A320M-7, it is 3.73 metres (12 ft 3 in) shorter than the A320;[55][62][63] four frames fore of the wing and three frames aft of the wing were removed. The reduced seating reduces the emergency exits 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 6,650 km (3,590 nmi), or 6,850 km (3,700 nmi) with the "Sharklets".[63] 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.[66] Although identical to those of the A320, these engines are derated because of the A319's lower MTOW.

The A319 was developed at the request of Steven Udvar-Hazy, the former president and CEO of ILFC according to The New York Times.[125] The A319's launch customer, in fact, was ILFC, which had placed an order for six A319s by 1993.[65] Anticipating further orders by Swissair and Alitalia, Airbus decided to launch the programme on 10 June 1993. Final assembly of the first A319 began on 23 March 1995[126] and it was first introduced with Lufthansa in July 1996. The direct Boeing competitor is the Boeing 737-700.

A total of 1,457 of the A319ceo model have been delivered, with 21 remaining on order as of 31 October 2016.[4]


The A319CJ (rebranded ACJ319) is the corporate jet version of the A319. It incorporates removable extra fuel tanks (up to 6 Additional Center Tanks) which are installed in the cargo compartment, and an increased service ceiling of 12,500 m (41,000 ft).[127] Range with eight passengers' payload and auxiliary fuel tanks (ACTs) is up to 6,000 nautical miles (11,100 km).[128][129] Upon resale, the aircraft can be reconfigured as a standard A319 by removing its extra tanks and corporate cabin outfit, thus maximising its resale value. It was formerly also known as the ACJ, or Airbus Corporate Jet, while starting with 2014 it has the marketing designation ACJ319.

ACJ319 operated by the Austrian operator MJET

The aircraft seats up to 39 passengers, but may be outfitted by the customers into any configuration. Tyrolean Jet Service Mfg. GmbH & CO KG, MJET and Reliance Industries are among its users. The A319CJ competes with other ultralarge-cabin corporate jets such as the Boeing 737–700-based Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) and Embraer Lineage 1000, as well as with large-cabin and ultralong-range Gulfstream G650, Gulfstream G550 and Bombardier's Global 6000. It is powered by the same engine types as the A320. The A319CJ was used by the Escadron de Transport, d'Entraînement et de Calibration which is in charge of transportation for France's officials and also by the Flugbereitschaft of the German Air Force for transportation of Germany's officials. An ACJ serves as a presidential or official aircraft of Armenia,[130] Azerbaijan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy,[131] Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Venezuela.


Main article: Airbus A318
Avianca A318

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 as of 31 October 2015.


A programme to convert A320 and A321 aircraft into freighters was set up by Airbus Freighter Conversion GmbH. Airframes would 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). However, on 3 June 2011, Airbus announced all partners would end the passenger to freighter programme, citing high demand for used airframes for passenger service.[132]

On 17 June 2015, ST Aerospace, signed agreements with Airbus and EADS EFW for a collaboration to launch the A320/A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion programme.[133]


IndiGo has ordered 400 A320neo aircraft

As of 31 October 2016, 6,950 Airbus A320-family aircraft (all variants, excluding the A320neo family) remained in commercial service with over 250 airline operators. This includes 69 A318, 1,441 A319ceo, 4,062 A320ceo, and 1,378 A321ceo aircraft.[4] Air France, Avianca, and British Airways are the only operators to operate all four variants of the A320.

Orders and deliveries

Type OrdersDeliveries
A318 808011222613
A319 1,478211,45742434383847518898
A320 4,6873544,333201282306352332306297221209
A321 1,7283331,3951841841501028366518766
Total 7,9737087,265389491490493455421401402386
Type Deliveries
A318 1789109
A319 1051371428772858911288534718
A320 194164121101119116119101101805838344871111119585816
A321 5130173533354928333522162216
Total 36733928923323323625724122216812772566471111119585816

Data through end of October 2016[4][115]

Accidents and incidents

For the entire A320 family, 91 aviation accidents and incidents have occurred, including 35 hull-loss accidents with a total of 1,392 fatalities as of May 2016.[134][135][136][137][138] Fifty incidents of glass cockpit blackout had occurred as of 2012.[139][140][141] Through 2013, the Airbus A320 family has experienced 0.14 fatal hull-loss accidents for every million takeoffs, and 0.24 total hull-loss accidents for every million takeoffs; this is one of the smallest fatality rates of any family of jets included in the study.[142]


Subtype A318[73] A319[63] A320[55] A321[56]
Cockpit crew 2
Exit limit EASA[143] 136 160 195 230
FAA[144] 136 150 190 230
1-class max. seating[145] 132 at 29–30 in (74–76 cm) pitch 156 at 28–30 in (71–76 cm) pitch 186 at 29 in (74 cm) pitch[146] 236 at 28 in (71 cm) pitch[147]
1-class, typical[145] 117 at 32 in (81 cm) pitch 134 at 32 in (81 cm) pitch 164 at 32 in (81 cm) pitch 199 at 32 in (81 cm) pitch
2-class, typical[145] 107 (8F @ 38 in, 99Y @ 32 in) 124 (8F @ 38 in, 116Y @ 32 in) 150 (12F @ 36 in, 138Y @ 32 in) 185 (16F @ 36 in, 169Y @ 32 in)
Cargo volume 21.20 m3 (749 cu ft) 27.70 m3 (978 cu ft) 37.40 m3 (1,321 cu ft) 51.70 m3 (1,826 cu ft)
Unit load devices 4× LD3-45 7× LD3-45 10× LD3-45
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)
Wheelbase 10.25 m (33 ft 8 in) 11.04 m (36 ft 3 in) 12.64 m (41 ft 6 in) 16.91 m (55 ft 6 in)
Track 7.59 m (24 ft 11 in)
Wingspan 34.10 m (111 ft 11 in) 35.8 m (117 ft 5 in) [lower-alpha 3]
Wing area 122.4 m2 (1,318 sq ft)[148]
Wing sweepback 25 degrees[148]
Tail height 12.56 m (41 ft 2 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)
Fuselage height 4.14 m (13 ft 7 in)
Maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) 68 t (150,000 lb) 75.5 t (166,000 lb) 78 t (172,000 lb) 93.5 t (206,000 lb)
Maximum landing weight (MLW) 57.5 t (127,000 lb) 62.5 t (138,000 lb) 66 t (146,000 lb) 77.8 t (172,000 lb)
Maximum zero-fuel weight (MZFW) 54.5 t (120,000 lb) 58.5 t (129,000 lb) 62.5 t (138,000 lb) 73.8 t (163,000 lb)
Operating empty weight (OEW)[145] 39.5 t (87,100 lb) 40.8 t (89,900 lb) 42.6 t (93,900 lb) 48.5 t (107,000 lb)
Cruising speed Mach 0.78 (515 mph; 829 km/h)[149]
Maximum speed Mach 0.82 (541 mph; 871 km/h)
Range, typical payload[lower-alpha 4] 3,100 nmi, 5,750 km 3,750 nmi, 6,950 km[lower-alpha 3] 3,300 nmi, 6,100 km[lower-alpha 3] 3,200 nmi, 5,950 km[lower-alpha 3]
ACJ range 4,200 nmi, 7,800 km[150] 6,000 nmi, 11,100 km[151] 4,300 nmi, 7,800 km[152]
Takeoff (MTOW, SL, ISA) 1,780 m (5,840 ft)[150] 1,850 m (6,070 ft)[151] 2,100 m (6,900 ft)[152]
Landing (MLW, SL, ISA) 1,230 m (4,040 ft)[150] 1,360 m (4,460 ft)[151] 1,500 m (4,900 ft)[152]
Fuel capacity 24,210 L (6,400 US gal) 24,210–30,190 L (6,400–7,980 US gal) 24,210–27,200 L (6,400–7,190 US gal) 24,050–30,030 L (6,350–7,930 US gal)
Service ceiling 39,100–41,000 ft (11,900–12,500 m)[143]
Engines (×2) CFM International CFM56-5B, 68.3 in (1.73 m) fan
PW6000A, 56.5 in (1.44 m) fan IAE V2500A5, 63.5 in (1.61 m) fan
Thrust (×2) 96–106 kN (22,000–24,000 lbf) 98–120 kN (22,000–27,000 lbf) 133–147 kN (30,000–33,000 lbf)


Aircraft model Certification date Engines[143]
A318-111 23 May 2003 CFM56-5B8/P
A318-112 23 May 2003 CFM56-5B9/P
A318-121 21 December 2005 PW6122A
A318-122 21 December 2005 PW6124A
A319-111 10 April 1996 CFM56-5B5 or 5B5/P
A319-112 10 April 1996 CFM56-5B6 or 5B6/P or 5B6/2P
A319-113 31 May 1996 CFM56-5A4 or 5A4/F
A319-114 31 May 1996 CFM56-5A5 or 5A5/F
A319-115 30 July 1999 CFM56-5B7 or 5B7/P
A319-131 18 December 1996 IAE Model V2522-A5
A319-132 18 December 1996 IAE Model V2524-A5
A319-133 30 July 1999 IAE Model V2527M-A5
A320-111 26 February 1988 CFM56-5A1 or 5A1/F
A320-211 8 November 1988 CFM56-5A1 or 5A1/F
A320-212 20 November 1990 CFM56-5A3
A320-214 10 March 1995 CFM56-5B4 or 5B4/P or 5B4/2P
A320-215 22 June 2006 CFM56-5B5
A320-216 14 June 2006 CFM56-5B6
A320-231 20 April 1989 IAE Model V2500-A1
A320-232 28 September 1993 IAE Model V2527-A5
A320-233 12 June 1996 IAE Model V2527E-A5
A321-111 27 May 1995 CFM56-5B1 or 5B1/P or 5B1/2P
A321-112 15 February 1995 CFM56-5B2 or 5B2/P
A321-131 17 December 1993 IAE Model V2530-A5
A321-211 20 March 1997 CFM56-5B3 or 5B3/P or 5B3/2P
A321-212 31 August 2001 CFM56-5B1 or 5B1/P or 5B1/2P
A321-213 31 August 2001 CFM56-5B2 or 5B2/P
A321-231 20 March 1997 IAE Model V2533-A5
A321-232 31 August 2001 IAE Model V2530-A5

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. At 31 October 2016, Airbus still list American Airlines and US Airways as separate operators. Following a merger[3] of the airlines in October 2015, the American Airlines total used here is combined for both carriers
  2. At 31 October 2016, Airbus still list American Airlines and US Airways as separate operators. Following a merger[3] of the airlines in October 2015, the American Airlines total used here is combined for both carriers
  3. 1 2 3 4 with sharklets
  4. Passengers and bags


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