Airbus A320 family

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Airbus A320 family
Airbus A320-200 in Airbus factory livery
An Airbus A320-200 in Airbus factory livery
Type: Twin - engine narrow-body aircraft
Design country:



First flight:

February 22, 1987


March 1988

Production time:

In series production since 1987

Number of pieces:

9451 (as of July 31, 2020)

The Airbus A320 family is the name given to the four narrow-body aircraft series from the aircraft manufacturer Airbus for short and medium- haul routes . The A320 was the first variant to be the basic model of the low- wing A320 family. The naming sequence of the model is based on the length of the hull; the A318 and A319 are slightly shorter than the A320, the stretched version is called A321. The first A320 was delivered in 1988 and was the first civil aircraft to have digital fly-by-wire controls.

Up to and including July 2020, a total of 15,576 A320 Family aircraft had been ordered. 9,451 machines were delivered, of which 8,947 are still in service. The A320 family is the best - selling airliner , ahead of the Boeing 737 family .


From the idea to the first flight of the Airbus A320

After the success of the Airbus A300 and its smaller sister A310 , Airbus began to develop a new type under the name SA1 or SA2 (SA stands for S ingle A isle = a cabin aisle ) in the 1980s . This was in competition with the world market leaders at the time in the so-called "volume class" of aviation, that is, the market segment of aircraft with a capacity of around 100 to 200 passengers. Due to its high number of units, this volume class is the most important division for both aircraft manufacturers and airlines. In the 1980s this was occupied by aircraft such as the Boeing 727 and Boeing 737 and the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 .

Initially, these plans were primarily driven by the French side, because the project was too risky for DASA and the (still) state-owned Lufthansa urged Airbus to develop the Airbus A340, known under the concept name TA11 . After long negotiations, the unofficial decision was made on June 4, 1981 to develop the A320 and offer it for sale ("Authorization to Offer"). Just two days later, Air France ordered 25 aircraft of this type and signed 25 purchase options. Various strategies were used to stand out from the existing market. The basic version A320 was developed with a loading capacity that was 20 percent higher than that of the Boeing 737-300. The operating costs should be 50 percent lower than with the popular Boeing 727, and in addition, the comfort should be increased by a larger fuselage cross-section. From the beginning, the A320 was designed for other versions with different fuselage lengths in terms of the wings .

The German government approved DM 1.5 billion, the French government FF 5 billion. (1.6 billion DM), the Spanish government a similar sum. Ultimately, the British government approved a loan of £ 250 million (DM 950 million) in 1984, of which 50 million had to be repaid whether or not the plane would ever fly. At the press conference a total of 1.7 billion USD (4.5 billion DM) was announced, while the summed up shares result in a total of 2.1 billion USD (5.7 billion DM). Including the start of production and excluding engines, the investment was then estimated at GBP 2 billion (DM 7.6 billion).

Prototype of the Airbus A320 in September 1988, but already modified as the A320-200

The official start of the program was announced on March 2, 1984. Under the leadership of Wolfgang Schneider, the first aircraft was on February 14, 1987 Toulouse completed . Princess Diana and Prince Charles named the aircraft. At this point in time, there were already more than 260 orders and over 150 purchase options for this type. The first flight was originally supposed to take place on Saturday, February 21, 1987, when several important rugby games were scheduled. To get the full media attention for this maiden flight, the flight was postponed for a day. It was approved a year later, on February 26, 1988.

Start of deliveries and introduction of family members


One of the first Airbus A320

The first series copies were delivered to the first customers Air France and British Caledonian . With the purchase of the British Caledonian, British Airways took over the remaining of the ten A320s ordered by this airline. The liner service began on April 18, 1988. Since the launch customer the engines from CFM International had chosen the members of the A320 family were during the first certification programs with the CFM-56 - turbofan -Triebwerken approved, the competition drive IAE V2500 followed.


Lufthansa got the first A321

On November 24, 1988, an extended version called the Airbus A321 was announced; previously, Airbus won 183 orders from ten customers, including Lufthansa, for this model. Apart from the fuselage, which was almost seven meters longer, only minor modifications were planned, including, for example, two-part and therefore more powerful landing flaps or the relocation of the emergency exits in front of or behind the wings. For the first time, Hamburg-Finkenwerder was selected as the final assembly site for an Airbus model . The first flight took place on March 11, 1993, this time first with the IAE V2500. The second prototype, however, was equipped with the CFM turbofan and flew for the first time in May of the same year.


An A319 from Swiss

A version shortened by approximately 3.70 meters was offered by Airbus as the A319 from May 22, 1992; the official program start was on June 10, 1993 after the aircraft leasing company ILFC ordered six aircraft . Hamburg was again selected for final assembly, where the model first flew on August 25, 1995. Swissair received the first aircraft on April 25, 1996.


A318 - the smallest of the family

When the failure of the AE31X project, which was aimed at a newly developed product line below the A320 family, became foreseeable, Airbus published first thoughts on a family member that had been reduced in size in early 1998. With the end of the project in September 1998, the start of development of an aircraft that was a good two and a half meters shorter than the A319 was announced. The program launch, which was designated as A318, took place six months later on April 26, 1999. The first flight was in Hamburg on January 15, 2002, and delivery began on July 22, 2003.


At the beginning of 2007 the 5,000th aircraft in the A320 family was ordered through an order from Spirit Airlines , and in October 2013 JetBlue ordered the 10,000th aircraft.

Further development - the Enhanced program

Sharklet of the A320 Enhanced


In April 2006, Airbus began studies to investigate possible improvements to the wings. For this purpose, three different winglets were tested, a more angular design as in the sister models Airbus A330 / A340 , blended winglets similar to those of the competitor Boeing 737 NG, but from an American manufacturer, and finally in 2008 the model from Aviation Partners , which was already on the Boeing 737 had found use. Ultimately, a decision was made against all of these options and on November 15, 2009 a decision was made in favor of a new development from the Korean Air Aerospace Division , which was marketed under the name Sharklets . The name is derived from the English shark (German: Hai ), alluding to the similarity of the new winglets with the dorsal fin of a shark. Initially, the A320 will be delivered with Sharklets from 2012, followed by the other models in the A320 series from 2013. According to Airbus, the new two and a half meter high winglets will save at least 3.5% fuel in longer sectors, which is per year and aircraft corresponds to about 700 tons of CO 2 saved . According to Airbus, the lower fuel consumption can either increase the payload by approx. 500 kg or extend the range by 185 km. Airbus mentions lower noise levels and improved climbing performance as further advantages of the Sharklets; they can also be retrofitted. In addition, the cabin equipment has been modified, such as redesigned hand luggage compartments, improvements in noise insulation and lighting.

Vortex generator

Vortex generator used from 2014

In February 2014, the first A320 with vortex generators was delivered. They eliminate the strong whistling tones of the circular openings of the overpressure protection on the underside of the wings, similar to the effect of a blown glass bottle, by generating air vortices that prevent the formation of these tones, which leads to a noise reduction of up to four decibels on the approach. This modification can also be retrofitted.

SHort AiRfield Package (SHARP)

Another option that can be ordered from 2016 includes the SHort AiRfield Package (SHARP), which uses Kevlar panels to optimize aerodynamics and thus enable earlier take-off and a slower approach. The aerodynamics package should also be offered for retrofitting.

The A320neo - modernizing the A320 Family

The Airbus A320 neo after its maiden flight

In December 2010, Airbus announced that it would be delivering the A319, A320 and A321 models in the new neo variant (New Engine Option) with new, more modern engines from 2015. The first plans for this began in 2005 and 2006. As the first customer for the new neo variant, Virgin America signed an order for 30 A320neo on December 29, 2010, as Airbus announced during the annual press conference on January 17, 2011.

For the time being, Airbus is offering the neo variants in parallel with the existing variants (now with the addition of ceo , current engine option ). Deliveries started in 2016 with the first A320neo, followed by the A321neo in 2017 and the A319neo at the end of 2019. There should not be a neo version of the A318. As before, there is a choice between two manufacturers for the engines. On the one hand, CFM International offers the LEAP , alternatively there is the PW1100G from IAE member Pratt & Whitney . The latter differs from conventional turbofan engines in that there is a reduction between the turbine and the fan. The consortium International Aero Engines (IAE), from which the V2500 was selected for the original A320 series, is no longer eligible for the neo program .

In addition to new engines, the A320neo series will also be delivered with the same Sharklets as the A320 Enhanced. By combining the new wing tips with the new engines, the fuel consumption of the neo models should be up to 15 percent lower than that of the previous A320 series. According to Airbus, this would correspond to an annual reduction in CO 2 emissions of 3600 tons per aircraft. Airbus is also promoting almost 50 percent lower nitrogen oxide and noise emissions. There were also improvements to the airframe , but the commonality with the previous A320 series is 95 percent.

The modification should improve the range by up to 950 km (500 NM ) or, alternatively, a payload that is two tons higher .

As a direct competitor to the Boeing 737 MAX , the A320neo family is currently (2020) selling significantly better.

Design of the A320 family

Wiring harness in the A320 cabin
The main landing gear, which is only used by Indian Airlines, is clearly visible, with two twin tires on each side.
Fully extended landing and spoilers on an A320

The wings have two spars . These are integrated into the structure of the fuselage through a central wing box . The surfaces have an arrow of 25 ° and 5 ° 6'36 "-V-position. The tailplane has a 6 ° V position. The wings and fuselage are designed according to the fail-safe principle. Highly stressed parts of the outer skin are made of milled aluminum. The aluminum alloy used is high-strength and is largely resistant to damage. Parts of the fuselage that are subject to particularly high loads are made of titanium or steel.

The A320 is thus similar to the Airbus A310 , but components of the lower fuselage cladding are made of aramid fiber reinforced plastic instead of a sandwich honeycomb core construction . In addition, the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer and the cladding of the transition from the fuselage to the vertical stabilizer are made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic . The rest of the tail unit, like most of the flaps, is made of plastic reinforced with carbon fibers . The A320 is the first commercial aircraft in which this material is used for the entire tail unit.

The nose wheel landing gear can be retracted and extended hydraulically. Both the forward retractable and steerable nose gear, manufactured by Safran Landing Systems , and the main landing gear retractable towards the fuselage, from the same manufacturer, are each equipped with twin tires and gas-assisted hydraulic shock absorbers. Alternatively, the main landing gear could be equipped with a frame for two twin tires to reduce the surface pressure . Indian Airlines used this landing gear configuration for its early A320 in order to be able to land safely even at regional airports with poor runways . All main gear wheels are equipped with multi-disc full disc brakes with carbon brake discs.

The A320 is controlled by a digital fly-by-wire system with sidesticks , which is developed and manufactured by Thales / SFENA . The system consists of a total of seven computers that monitor each other. This network of computers also ensures that the structural boundaries are monitored and that the flight area boundaries of the aircraft are safely adhered to . Ailerons, elevators, vertical stabilizers, spoilers, slats and landing flaps are monitored directly via the fly-by-wire system, and the surfaces themselves are moved hydraulically . The horizontal stabilizer trim and the rudder are also controlled via the fly-by-wire system. In the event of a malfunction, the latter can be operated directly with the aid of the hydraulics to enable the aircraft to be controlled in the event of a total failure of the on-board electronics.

The buoyancy aids are controlled by a system from Liebherr and Lucas Aerospace . Each wing has five slat segments , two Fowler flap segments and five spoilers, which, depending on the flight condition, are used to reduce lift, support the ailerons, as a gust compensation system and as air brakes.

The engine nacelles are manufactured by Rohr Industries . The thrust reverser differs depending on the engines used. For the CFM56 , the fan air flow of the engine is diverted to the front via pivoting flaps. This version comes from Hispano-Suiza . When the IAE V2500 from International Aero Engines (IAE) is installed, there is a blade lattice thrust reverser from IAE, which also diverts the fan flow. Both engine variants have two-channel FADEC as a control system.

The air conditioning comes from Liebherr / ABG-Semca . The systems for maintaining and regulating the internal cabin pressure are manufactured by Hamilton Sundstrand / Nord-Micro . The on-board network is supplied by two Hamilton-Sundstrand three-phase generators with an output of 90 kVA. It has a voltage of 115/200 V and a frequency of 400 Hz. These generators are powered by the engines. For stand-alone operation without running engines, a part of auxiliary power unit (APU - Auxiliary Power Unit) as standard, which also uses a 90 kVA generator.

There are three independent hydraulic systems. Two of them are powered by one engine each, and there is also an electric pump for operations on the ground (e.g. for the doors of the cargo holds). The third system is powered electrically or, in an emergency, by the Ram Air Turbine (RAT, ram pressure turbine ). The pressure of all systems is 3000 psi (207 bar ). A transfer unit connects the first two systems mechanically in the event of an engine failure.

The entire avionics are interconnected with an ARINC 429 bus system. The functionality of the devices is described in the ARINC specifications of the 700 series.

The cabin has a central aisle (single aisle) and is approved for a maximum of 230 passengers according to the EASA approval data sheet (A321) The maximum number for the A320 is 195 passengers, for the A319 there are 160 and the A318 as the smallest model is 136 Passengers limited. The respective cabin layout is manufactured according to customer requirements. Luggage storage compartments that can be closed with flaps are located above the passenger seats. There is a passenger door each in the bow and stern area of ​​the fuselage. The front door can be equipped with a staircase. Opposite the passenger doors (left) there are service doors on the right side of the fuselage. The A318, A319 and A320 have up to two emergency windows on the right and left in the fuselage above the wings. Instead, due to its greater length, the A321 has two additional passenger doors in front of and behind the wings. The fuselage has a double circular cross-section. Seven containers derived from the LD3 type can be accommodated in the hold . Loading with the containers is supported by a loading system. There is a luggage compartment in the stern of the fuselage.

Position of the satellite antenna for Internet reception (symbolic)

If desired by the user, a hump-shaped antenna for Internet reception via satellites can be installed on the top of the fuselage, which was implemented at Lufthansa from 2016, for example.

Technical innovations

Cabin interior of the A319 at easyJet
galley at easyJet

The A320 was the first series-produced civil aircraft that was controlled exclusively by fly-by-wire ; only Concorde had a similar tax system. To be on the safe side, the Concorde also had conventional, direct control systems; it was only produced in very small numbers. This electronic system enables the aircraft to be controlled without a direct mechanical connection between the actuating element and the control surface, which saves weight and thus lowers costs. Only the hydraulic valves of the rudder and elevator are linked with conventional steel cables for redundancy reasons .

Instead of a control horn , a sidestick is used for the first time in the cockpit with six CRT screens, which was revolutionary at the time (since the introduction of the A318 LC screens ). This cockpit soon shaped all Airbus aircraft built after the A320.

The fly-by-wire technology and the philosophy pursued by Airbus regarding the use of on-board computers caused great discussions during the introduction. So far, the priority setting in favor of the control signals calculated by flight control computers compared to the control inputs of the pilots has been unprecedented. For the first time, control commands that were disqualified as nonsensical by the computers were not passed on to the control surfaces. The critics saw a potential risk in this implementation of the fly-by-wire system. For example, it is possible to additively neutralize or - within limits - reinforce the input of the other by using opposite control inputs from both pilots via their sidesticks.

Thrust changes also take place through the automatic engine control without the thrust levers being moved mechanically and thus immediately recognizable for the pilots. Therefore, at that time, some aircraft manufacturers still decided against the fly-by-wire system, such as Boeing when developing the competing model 737NG. After a few improvements to the software, the system caught on, its reputation improved through adapted training, and today almost all commercial aircraft are planned with fly-by-wire systems. Initially, several crashes and accidents confirmed these warnings. An accident that was actually related to this technology and resulted in two deaths occurred in Warsaw in 1993 when a Lufthansa Airbus was unable to brake because the landing gear monitoring parameter was set too high ( Lufthansa flight 2904 ).


Cockpit of an Airbus A319-100

One of the greatest advantages of the A320 Family is what is known as “family commonality ”. This word, which was introduced by Airbus for this purpose and does not exist in the German language outside of mathematics, refers to the commonality of features and properties related to several aircraft types or variants.

It extends over many areas, for example in the construction itself or in operation. Some systems of the different types of aircraft are identical in order to save costs in maintenance and pilot training. Specifically, this means, for example, that all models in the A320 Family can be flown with the same type rating ( type rating ).

This principle can be found in the following areas in the A320 family: The same parts, engines, etc. are used to a large extent, which saves costs, especially in maintenance. In addition, the avionics (aircraft electronics) of the A320 Family is essentially the same as the A330 / A340 Family. Slightly modified versions of the CFM International CFM56 engines available for the A320 family are also used in the Boeing 737 (model generations 'Classic' and 'NG') and in the A340-200 and -300. As a result, these engines can be purchased at lower prices thanks to economies of scale. In addition, airlines that operate several of these types, such as Lufthansa , which uses the A320 and A340-300 in parallel, can realize lower training, acquisition, maintenance and storage costs and other savings. The fact that the A320 family is largely identical to the cockpit of the A330 and A340 is also part of the commonality . A further development of the cockpit philosophy implemented in these types can be found in the A380 ; the A350 is to receive a further development of the A380 cockpit.

Production sites, manufacturing and logistics


An Airbus Beluga in Hamburg unloading cockpit sections

Like all Airbus models, the individual components of the A320 family are manufactured at the various Airbus production sites and those of the suppliers. From there they are transported to the final assembly sites. The individual parts are transported between the plants with the Airbus Beluga or by ship. This is how the cockpit section and the front fuselage are created in Méaulte and Saint-Nazaire . The elevators are made in Getafe near Madrid, the wings are made in Broughton , the rudders are made in Stade and various fuselage sections are made in Hamburg . In 2004, the complete production of an A320 took nine months.

Final assembly in France - Germany - China - USA

While the final assembly of the A320 was carried out exclusively in Toulouse until February 2008 , the A320 has also been finalized in Hamburg-Finkenwerder since March 2008 due to high demand . The final assembly line for the A318, A319 and A321 variants was already located there.

In Tianjin , China , another plant with a capacity of four aircraft per month (from 2011) was inaugurated on September 28th, 2008 by the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Airbus CEO Thomas Enders . The first A320ceo produced there was handed over to Dragon Aviation Leasing on June 23, 2009 and the first A320neo to AirAsia on October 25, 2017 . In the meantime, 340 aircraft have been manufactured at the plant. The Chinese plant is a joint venture between Airbus and the Chinese state group China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC).

On September 14, 2015, another facility opened in Mobile , Alabama in the southeastern United States . The final assembly of the entire A320 family can take place there; at least initially, A321s are mainly manufactured for the US market.


In the summer of 2010, Airbus assembled and delivered 34 A320 family aircraft per month, at the end of 2012 the monthly production was 42 and in February 2017 50 aircraft.

economic aspects

The list prices of the individual versions of the A320 family in 2017 without a discount are between 75.9 million US dollars for the basic version of the Airbus A318 and 127 million US dollars for the best-equipped Airbus A321neo, not including special equipment.

However, these list prices are hardly meaningful for the actual amount of the prices due to the sometimes considerable discounts for large orders. In addition, the price depends on the construction weight, the choice of engines and the amount of customization chosen.

In terms of their economic efficiency, there are hardly any differences between the A320 family and Boeing 737NG (with winglets ). Some models of the Boeing 737 have a slight weight advantage over the comparable types of the A320 family. This is particularly important for the 737-600 compared to the A318 and for the 737-900ER compared to the A321 and ensures lower direct operating costs. However, the extensive commonality of the A320 family is responsible for a potential for savings that should not be underestimated, which is why the operating costs are roughly the same overall.

Compared to other competing aircraft such as the “classic” Boeing 737 or the McDonnell Douglas MD-90 , the A320 was superior in terms of its economic efficiency, which motivated Boeing to further develop the Boeing 737. For the discontinuation of the production of the MD-90 after the takeover of McDonnell Douglas by Boeing, the greater economic efficiency of the A320 Family was a main reason. The internal competition between the MD-90 and the B 737 also played an important role.

After considerable difficulties in the early years, the A320 Family has now achieved a departure reliability of 99.7 percent.

List Prices (in millions of US dollars)
A318 A319 A319neo A320 A320neo A321 A321neo
2008 59.1 70.3 76.9 90.3
2012 67.7 80.7 88.8 88.3 96.7 103.6 113.3
2013 70.1 83.6 92.0 91.5 100.2 107.3 117.4
2014 71.9 85.8 94.4 93.9 102.8 110.1 120.5
2015 74.3 88.6 97.5 97.0 106.2 113.7 124.4
2016 75.1 89.6 98.5 98.0 107.3 114.9 125.7
2017 75.9 90.5 99.5 99.0 108.4 116.0 127.0
2018 77.4 92.3 101.5 101.0 110.6 118.3 129.5


Airbus A319, A320 and A321 of Lufthansa at Munich Airport

Building on the A320, a complete family of aircraft was developed relatively quickly in the 1990s, in which all versions share the same basic elements, but have different fuselage lengths and passenger capacities. The last digits of the type designations were chosen in ascending order analogous to the fuselage length: the A318 is the aircraft with the shortest and the A321 the one with the longest fuselage. All versions are certified for ETOPS flights with a flight time of 180 minutes to the nearest airport and can therefore also carry out long-haul flights over uninhabited areas.

Since the announcement of the A320neo versions (with a new generation of engines) began Airbus, the models with the original, used since the start of production engines for better differentiation as A320ceo models (current engine option English for Current engine option) to call.


The Airbus A318, together with the Bombardier C-series (Airbus A220), which was taken over in 2018 and which is sometimes larger and sometimes smaller, depending on the parameters considered, is one of the smallest aircraft from Airbus.


Air France Airbus A318-100
An Airbus A318-100 of Frontier Airlines

The A318-100 has a typical two-class layout (2–2 seats in business and 3–3 seats in economy class) for 107 passengers. With the densest seating with only one class there is space for 120 passengers. The range of the aircraft, together with its ETOPS approval, even enables transatlantic routes, for example Paris - Boston or New York - Dublin with this type. British Airways regularly uses this type of aircraft for the New York - London route (see below).

Originally, Airbus wanted to round off its model range with a completely newly developed family of aircraft with a passenger capacity of around 100 passengers. This program, called AE31X , provided for an AE316 with 95 seats and an extended AE317, which Airbus wanted to develop together with Alenia and a newly founded company Airbus Industrie Asia . The international project, in which a Chinese company and a company from Singapore wanted to participate, was stopped by Airbus on September 3, 1998 because of the low prospect of success.

Independently of this project, Airbus began to think about a further shortened A320 with the name A319M5 (M5 stands for “minus five fuselage frames”). After the AE31X project was officially terminated, the A318 project was launched as an alternative at the 1998 Farnborough Airshow . Four years later, on January 15, 2002, the first flight took place. Problems were initially caused by the PW-6000 engines supplied by Pratt & Whitney , which did not perform as promised. For this reason, some customers initially chose the CFM engines, which were only available as a special request from Air France , while others canceled the A318. A version of the PW6000, improved by MTU Aero Engines with a new high-pressure compressor , had been in flight testing since the end of 2005 and was approved in 2006. The first customer for the A318 with this type of engine is LAN Airlines , which ordered 20 of the Airbus model and took over the first aircraft in June 2007. In the meantime, LAN Airlines has reduced the order to 15 planes, all of which have been taken over.

An Airbus A318 will cost about 71.9 million US dollars . The development cost between 300 and 350 million US dollars; it was financed by Airbus and various industrial partners.

Due to the significantly higher curb weight, this model (like the Boeing 737-600 ) is actually not competitive against the Embraer E-Jet family of the same size . For airlines that already have other models of the A320 family, this type has advantages in terms of training and operational flexibility for pilots and mechanics and is therefore chosen; the numbers are comparatively small. First customer Frontier Airlines found no buyer for the A318 after its temporary bankruptcy and the resulting restructuring and has cannibalized and scrapped all of its aircraft of this type, some of which were only in service for two years.

Along with the A220 taken over from competitor Bombardier , the A318 is the only aircraft from the European aircraft manufacturer to be approved for steep approaches . The glidepath of the instrument landing system is up to 5.5 ° instead of the commonly used 3 °. Steep approaches are necessary on the one hand at airports with difficult surroundings, for example in mountainous areas, but also for the purpose of noise protection, for example in the vicinity of city centers. In order to counteract an increase in speed that would result from the steeper descent, the spoilers are extended during the entire descent phase . The A318, together with the A220, is currently the largest commercial aircraft in the world that has been approved for ILS approaches with such a steep approach.

The so-called “baby bus” is used by Air France , British Airways , Avianca (taken over from Mexicana ), Avianca Brazil (taken over from LAN Airlines ) and TAROM . In contrast to the rest of the single-aisle family, this aircraft was also built with a civilian engine from Pratt & Whitney, the PW6000. The final assembly of this engine was carried out at MTU in Hanover. The engine nacelle on this engine does not come from Goodrich, but from Aircelle. This line was discontinued in early 2009; the last machine with this type of engine was a machine of the Chilean airline LAN.

The use of two British Airways A318s on a long-haul route across the Atlantic was a special feature. From September 29, 2009, the airline started using this model on pure business-class flights to New York. On the flight from London City Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport , a stopover was made at Shannon Airport to refuel because the A318 could not take off with a full tank on the short runway at London City Airport. The return flight was non-stop . The flights were carried out with flight numbers BA0001 to BA0004, the flight time was 9:30 h or 7:20 h with a flight distance of approx. 5600 km, depending on the direction. The first of the two Airbus A318s was already phased out in 2017, and at the end of July 2020 British Airways announced that the second aircraft of this type would also leave the fleet and flights will not be resumed.

The last of only 79 aircraft ordered for the time being was delivered as a business jet in February 2013. Although the type can still be ordered, it now has a direct competitor in-house with the Airbus A220 , which is not only technically more modern and economical, but also 30 percent cheaper to purchase with a comparable passenger capacity. The low sales success of the A318 corresponds to that of its direct competitor, the Boeing 737-600 , whose production ended in 2006 due to a lack of orders after the production of 69 machines.


A private Airbus A318 Elite on its way to the taxi position at Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel Airport

In November 2005, Airbus presented the modified ACJ318 (formerly A318 Elite ) as a further member of the Airbus corporate jetliner family, a range of particularly luxuriously equipped VIP versions of various Airbus models.


An Airbus A319-100 from Swiss

The A319 is the second smallest aircraft type in the A320 family.


A Germanwings A319
taking off

In typical 2–2 seating in business class and 3–3 seating in economy class, the A319 cabin holds 124 passengers. Originally 150 passengers could travel with the densest seating. Since a major order from the airline Easyjet , which required a higher number of seats, the A319 is also being built with four emergency exits above the wings, so that a maximum of 156 seats are possible in a one-class configuration.

The A319 program was launched in 1993 and the first flight took place on August 25, 1995 from Hamburg-Finkenwerder . A new Airbus A319-100 officially costs around 88.6 million US dollars, Airbus had to raise around 275 million US dollars for the development.


Cabin of an ACJ319

The ACJ319, or Airbus Corporate Jetliner (formerly A319CJ / ACJ), is a business jet originally based on the Airbus A319 .

The conception of the basic model was retained. The installation of additional tanks is possible by changing the cargo hold. This increases the range up to 11,100 km with eleven passengers. Tanks can optionally be removed again for more cargo space. The ACJ319 is often used as a corporate shuttle. For example, the former to let DaimlerChrysler owned airline DC Aviation a copy in a pure business class seating commute between the two centers of Stuttgart and Detroit. The governments of Italy , the Czech Republic , Brazil and Germany have ACJs in their service as VIP aircraft. Private customers also use this model. The interior can either be chosen from the variants offered by Airbus or designed by companies such as Lufthansa Technik according to individual wishes. The main competition is the Boeing Business Jet and the long-haul models from Bombardier , Gulfstream and Dassault , which have significantly less space but achieve a higher cruising speed. The ACJ319 is certified for 180-minute ETOPS flights.


An Airbus A319LR of Privatair

This version has some similarities with the ACJ319 and was developed on its basis. With the A319LR (Long Range - high range ) long-haul flights with intercontinental range are possible. The main difference to the ACJ is that the A319LR only has four instead of six additional tanks. The typical range for a configuration with 48 passengers is 8250 km, which is the second highest range in the A320 family.

Example of use: PrivatAir used this type of aircraft on behalf of Lufthansa , for example to operate exclusively business class flights between Düsseldorf and Chicago or New York and between Frankfurt am Main and New York or Pune (India). Qatar Airways used A319LRs with a configuration for 110 passengers on the route between Doha and Berlin, Doha and Stuttgart and Doha and Copenhagen, among others.

The only direct competitor to the A319LR so far is the Boeing 737-700ER .

A319 MPA

Airbus has offered various navies the development of a maritime patrol based on the A319 or the larger A320. These mind games only became concrete in the case of a tender by the Indian Navy , which was offered an A319 MPA. The aerodynamic structure of the aircraft would not have been changed. However, four mounts for anti-ship missiles and torpedoes would have been attached under the wings , and an internal weapons bay would have been installed in the stern. A maritime surveillance radar and electro-optical sensors would have been installed under the front fuselage, while a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) would have been mounted on the upper edge of the tail fin to locate submarines. Other special equipment would have been military radio equipment, a self-protection system and a HUD . The Indian Navy ultimately decided in favor of the Boeing P-8 . Airbus is propagating a new version of this idea in connection with the soon-to-be-required replacement of the Atlantic 2 in France and the P-3 Orion in Europe, which will have to be replaced by new maritime patrols / submarine fighters around 2030.



As the smallest member of the family, the Airbus A319neo will benefit from the new engines. A greater range or, alternatively, a higher payload can be achieved simply through their lower fuel consumption. The advantages resulting from the modernization are, however, lower with the A319neo than with sister or competitor models such as the newly developed Airbus A220 , which has significant efficiency advantages . This translates into fewer orders than the other versions. The first flight took place on March 30, 2017, the first delivery (ACJ319neo) in August 2019 to K5 Aviation .


The base model A320 can accommodate a maximum of 180 passengers. In a typical two-class configuration (2–2 seating in business class and 3–3 seating in economy class ) 150 passengers fit into the cabin. Seven AKH containers can be stowed in the hold , three in the front part and four in the rear. The kerosene consumption is around 2700 liters per hour.


British Airways Airbus A320-100

The A320 program was initiated in 1982, the first flight took place on February 22, 1987. The aircraft was certified the following year, and in March 1988 the first A320 was delivered to the French airline Air France. Only 21 copies of the 100 version were produced, which besides Air France were only delivered to Air Inter and British Airways . This model had no " wingtip fences " and smaller fuel tanks as well as a lower take-off weight than the later A320-200. Due to the poor performance data and their age (the last A320-100 was delivered in February 1989), British Airways phased out its last five copies in 2007, whereupon the machines were scrapped. The last operator of the 100 variant was Air France, which also retired its last copy in July 2010. The A320 prototype owned by Airbus was originally also built as the A320-100, but a little later it was converted to the 200 standard. It is the only surviving aircraft from the A320-100 series.


Belle Air Airbus A320-200

Shortly after the introduction of the A320-100, this version was discontinued and replaced by the 200 variant. The A320-200 has also called wingtip fences , longer range and a higher maximum takeoff weight than the A320-100. The 200 version with the CFM-56 engines was approved in November 1988. The first flight of an A320-200 with IAE-V2500 engines took place on July 28, 1988, certification on April 20, 1989. In May 1989, the first aircraft was delivered to Adria Airways .

The A320-200 quickly developed into a serious direct competitor to the Boeing 737-400 of about the same size and is now selling better than the 737-800, which is now available . The A320-200 costs about $ 93.9 million.

At the beginning of 2012, Airbus delivered the 5,000th A320 to the Lebanese state-owned Middle East Airlines .


In November 2005, Airbus, together with the ACJ318, presented the ACJ320 (then the A320 Prestige ) as a further member of the Airbus corporate jet range of particularly spacious and luxurious business jets .


Lufthansa Airbus A320neo

On March 17, 2014, the construction of the first prototype of the Airbus A320neo began on the final assembly line at the Airbus plant in Toulouse; the roll-out took place on July 1, 2014. On September 25, 2014, the first A320neo with PW1100G engines took off in Toulouse on its maiden flight. The first flight of an A320neo with CFM LEAP engines followed on May 19, 2015. On November 24, 2015, the A320neo with the PW1100G engines received an operating license from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration , the variant with CFM LEAP engines on May 31, 2016.

The delivery to the first customer Qatar Airways should have taken place in the fourth quarter of 2015, but was initially rejected by Qatar Airways due to restrictions with the PW1100G engine. Instead, the machine should be delivered to Lufthansa on December 22nd, but this date has been postponed. The first delivery to Lufthansa finally took place on January 20, 2016. The first commercial use took place on January 25th as flight LH100 on the route from Frankfurt to Munich.

The first delivery of an A320neo with CFM LEAP engines went to Pegasus Airlines on July 19, 2016 .


An Airbus A321-100 from Austrian Airlines

With a typical two-class layout (2–2 seating in Business Class and 3–3 seating in Economy Class), the cabin of the A321 offers space for 186 passengers. With narrow one-class seating (3–3 seating throughout), the aircraft is suitable for up to 220 passengers. The A321 is thus in competition with the largest model in the Boeing 737 aircraft family, the 737-900ER, which is approved for a maximum of 219 passengers. The Boeing 757-200 was also in the same capacity range - with a greater range. Their production was stopped in April 2005.

Due to the higher take-off weight and the rotation limit due to the elongated fuselage (avoidance of tail strike ), a new trailing edge flap system had to be developed for the A321. The A320's single slit flap has therefore been replaced by a double slit flap with an auxiliary flap (flap tab). This makes it the only Airbus model with a double slit flap. In addition to the increased weight, the A321 requires more powerful engines than the A320 due to the resulting greater drag.

Since the maximum number of passengers has been increased to 220, there are a total of four emergency doors on the right and left in front of and behind the wings, which are considerably larger than the emergency windows on the other versions.

At the end of February 2009, Airbus delivered the 500th A321 to Air France .


The A321 program was started in 1989 with the first version A321-100. The first flight took place in March 1993. In December of the same year the aircraft received its approval in Europe. It was designed primarily for scheduled airlines such as Alitalia and Lufthansa, which connect major European cities. The charter airlines who want to fly from Central Europe to the Canary Islands and US companies, for which it is often important that an aircraft can fly from the east to the west coast without stopping, showed little interest in the Airbus A321-100. Airbus therefore quickly added a version with an extended range. In January 2019, the first two prototypes of the A321 were still in operation at Onur Air .


The development of the variant A321-200 began in 1995, the first flight took place in 1996. The range was increased to 5500 km with additional tanks and other small modifications were made. Since May 2002, all A321s that have been delivered are of type -200.


Based on the A321-200, Airbus offers the ACJ321 (formerly A321 CJ ) as a further member of the Airbus corporate jet business jets .


Prototype of the Airbus A321neo

The Airbus A321neo shares the same innovations with the other two neo versions. The first flight took place on February 9, 2016, and the first machine was delivered to Virgin America on April 19, 2017 .

ACF (Airbus Cabin-Flex)

With Airbus Cabin-Flex as the A321neo ACF , a modified layout of the fuselage and cabin became available to enable a capacity of up to 244 passengers in the A321 (previously 220). This was initially optional for the 321neo (not 321LR) and should become standard from 2018/2020. A more efficient use of the available space and additional emergency exits are necessary for the higher passenger capacity; on the other hand, these are not required for the long-haul variants (with usually fewer seats) and the omitted doors allow a more free division of the interior.

The old layout had doors 1 and 2 in front of the wing and doors 3 and 4 behind the wing; of these, door 2 in front of the wing is omitted, there are also 2 emergency exits above the wing, door 3 is moved four frames to the rear. All five openings are always present in the fuselage, so this is uniformly independent of the number of exits required. Depending on the need for emergency exits, doors or “blind covers” are installed. The interior cladding elements in front of a used door or a blind cover are interchangeable and fully integrated into the adjacent normal wall elements, so that with a blind cover the closed opening hidden behind cannot be seen from the inside. If fully equipped with 3 doors and 2 emergency exits, 240 passengers are permitted, 3 doors and 1 emergency exit or 2 doors and 2 emergency exits result in 195, 2 doors and 1 emergency exit result in 165 permitted passengers.

The cabin can be equipped with up to five toilets; at least with high-density seating, the rear toilets can be relocated from in front of the doors 4 to the rear next to the reduced rear galley area. The former toilet space in front of the doors is now free for rows of seats, but without a window.

The first delivery of an A321neo ACF took place in July 2018 to Turkish Airlines. Under the name Space-Flex, a similar or the same concept was delivered to Vueling in an A320 as early as 2015 and documents from Safran suggest that the concept should be used for all Neos.


A321LR from Arkia Israeli Airlines
The cabin-flex design without the second door in front of the wings and the instead added two emergency exits above the wing is noteworthy

On October 21, 2014 it was announced that Airbus intends to offer a version of the A321neo with increased range and take-off weight increased to 97 tons. The pattern, initially referred to in the media as A321neoLR (LR - Long Range) or (XLR - Xtra Long Range), has been listed as A321LR / XLR since January 15, 2015. Among other things, Airbus would like to enable airlines to replace the no longer produced Boeing 757-200, which plays a major role in American and transatlantic medium and long-haul traffic, for example. The A321LR should be around 25% cheaper to operate, but still exceed the range of the Boeing 757. This is made possible by three additional tanks in the hold. This means that 206 passengers can be transported up to 7400 kilometers in a two-class layout typical for this market segment. The first delivery is planned for 2019 [obsolete] . Air Lease Corporation became its first customer on January 13, 2015. The A321LR is particularly popular with low-cost airlines . It has up to 220 seats and the range is large enough to cross the Atlantic . Norwegian Air Shuttle changed an order from 30 A320neo to the same number of A321LR in July 2016.

The first flight of the A321LR took place on January 31, 2018, the type certification including ETOPS -180 certification by EASA and FAA was granted on October 2. Primera Air was initially planned as the first customer, but had to file for bankruptcy shortly before delivery on October 1, 2018. On December 14, 2018, Arkia Israeli Airlines received the first delivery of an A321LR.


At the Farnborough Airshow 2018, Airbus announced that it would consider further increasing the range of the Airbus A321. At the Paris Air Show 2019, Airbus announced that the aircraft called A321XLR ( Extra Long Range ) would hit the market in 2023. It receives an additional permanent tank in the fuselage area behind the wings, another optional tank can be installed in the fuselage area in front of the wings. This should increase the range to around 8700 kilometers. The maximum take-off weight increases by 4 tons compared to the A321LR, which requires a reinforcement of the landing gear. Furthermore, the XLR variant has a modernized flap system with single slotted flaps (instead of double slotted flaps like the other variants of the A321, but not identical to the single slotted flaps of the A320). Similar to the A350 , the flap positions in positions 1 and 2 are no longer tied to the positions of the selector lever, but can be set to intermediate positions by the FMS without additional intervention by the pilot in order to achieve optimal performance depending on weight and other factors. After the end of the air show, Airbus was able to announce 243 purchase contracts or letters of intent from a total of 13 airlines to purchase the type.

The A321XLR's operational profile is similar to that of the Boeing 757 and includes transatlantic connections from Central and Western Europe to the US east coast and inland, as well as connections from Europe to India or between Australia and Southeast Asia. The cabin width of the A321 is 16 cm larger than that of the Boeing 757.

With the Boeing New Midsize Airplane, Boeing was considering building a jet with similar data (225 passengers and 9260 km range), but discontinued development in early 2020.

A320 / A321 P2F

An Airbus program for converting used A320 and A321 passenger aircraft into cargo aircraft is called Passenger to Freighter Conversion, or P2F for short.

The first attempt was made in 2006. The EADS subsidiary Airbus Freighter Conversion GmbH (AFC) in Dresden was originally supposed to be responsible . The companies Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) (32% share), Airbus (18%) and the Russian companies UAC (25%) and Irkut (25%) were involved in the joint venture . EFW and Irkut should be responsible for the detailed planning and engineering services, while Airbus should be responsible for non-project-specific tasks, design acceptance and certification of the P2F aircraft types. After changing market conditions and increased demand for passenger aircraft, the partners decided to discontinue the program in this form in June 2011 and to dissolve AFC.

In 2015 EFW, Airbus and Singapore Technologies (ST) Aerospace launched a new program to convert A320 and A321 into freighters. A contract to upgrade the first ten A321s was signed on February 7, 2018 with the Luxembourg leasing company Vallair. The first flight of the first converted A321 from Singapore Seletar Airport took place on January 22, 2020 .

On February 8, 2018, the Chinese Guangdong Aerocity Holding Co., Ltd. (GDA) issued a letter of intent to convert ten A320s into freighters.

Sales and usage

As of July 31, 2020, 15,576 aircraft from the Airbus A320 family have been ordered, of which 9,451 have been delivered. 8947 of them are still in service. With 8695 orders, the Airbus A320 is the most popular variant, followed by the Airbus A321 with 5231 purchases. The Airbus A319 was sold 1,570 times, the Airbus A318 80 times.


By January 2019, a total of 34 Airbus A320s had been destroyed by accidents, armed forces or criminal influences or so damaged that they had to be written off as a total loss; 1,015 people were killed in these events. So far there have been no incidents with the sister model Airbus A318 and two incidents without personal injury with the A319 model. In the A321 series there were five total losses with a total of 377 fatalities. With 0.11 accidents with loss of human life per million take-offs, the A320 Family built since 1987 has a slightly higher level of safety than the "classic" (built since 1984, 0.25) and "Next Generation" (built since 1997, 0.09) Versions of the main competitor Boeing 737 , which together have an accident rate of 0.17 (as of 2016).

Technical specifications

Airbus A320 family

Parameter A318-100 A319-100 A320-100 / -200 A321-100 / -200
length 31.45 m 33.84 m 37.57 m 44.51 m
span 34.10 m 35.80 m
Hull diameter 3.96 m
Cabin width 3.68 m
height 12.56 m 11.76 m
maximum takeoff weight 68,000 kg 75,500 kg 78,000 kg 93,500 kg
Take-off track at MTOW 1,355 m 1,950 m 2,090 m 2,180 m
Cruising speed Mach 0.78 (828 km / h at 11,000 m / 36,000 ft)
Top speed Mach 0.82 (871 km / h at 11,000 m / 36,000 ft)
Passengers 107 to 132 124 to 156 150 to 180 185 to 236
Range 2,700 to 6,000 km 3,350 to 6,850 km 4,800 to 6,150 km 4,400 to 5,950 km
Fuel capacity 24,210 l L 30,190 24,210 l to 30,190 l -100: 23,700 l / -200: 29,680 l
Passenger doors 4th
Emergency exits 2 normal 2, optional 4 4; above the wings 4; 2 each in front of and 2 behind the wings
Service ceiling 12,130 m
Fuel consumption
(at cruising altitude per hour)
2,400 l 2,600 l 2,700 l 2,900 l
drive  2 CFMI CFM56-5B
with 105.9 kN each
2 Pratt & Whitney PW6122A
with 98.3 kN each
 2 CFM56-5B
with 104.5 kN each
2 IAE V2527-A5
with 104.5 kN each
 2 CFMI CFM56-5A
with 118 kN each
2 IAE V2527-A5
with 118 kN each
 2 CFMI CFM-56-5B
with 142.3 kN each
2 IAE V-2533-A5
with 146.8 kN each
First flight January 15, 2002 August 25, 1995 February 22, 1987 -100: March 1993 / -200: 1996
Commissioning July 2003 ( Frontier Airlines ) April 1996 ( Swissair ) March 1988 ( Air France ) January 1994 ( Lufthansa )
Unit cost € 77.4 million (2018) € 92.3 million (2018) € 101.0 million (2018) € 118.3 million (2018)

Further technical details (A320-200)

Parameter Wing Tailplane Vertical stabilizer
Span b; b h ; b v * 34.10 m 12.45 m 5.87 m
Wing area S; S h ; S v 122.6 m² 31 m² 21.51 m²
Wing chord l a ; l h ; l v ** 4.19 m 2.70 m 3.95 m
Elongation 9,396 5.0 1.602
Escalation 0.246 0.33 -
Arrow (t / 4 line) 25 ° 28 ° 35 °
V position 5.1 ° 6 ° -
Profile thickness (in%) at the root / at the kink / at the tip;
average profile thickness ***
15.2% / 10.8% / - 10% 11%
Wing loading 600 kg / m² (589 daN / m²) - -
*The span b is the symbol for the wings, b h for the horizontal stabilizer and b v for the vertical stabilizer .
**Just like for the wingspan, l a for the wings, l h for the horizontal stabilizer and l v for the vertical stabilizer .
*** The average profile thickness can only be calculated for the horizontal stabilizer and the vertical stabilizer; the profile thickness of the wings is determined at different points.

Airbus A320neo family

Parameter A319neo A320neo A321neo A321LR / XLR
length 33.84 m 37.57 m 44.51 m
span 35.80 m
Hull diameter 3.95 m
Cabin width 3.70 m
height 11.76 m
maximum takeoff weight 75,500 kg 79,000 kg 93,500 kg 97,000 kg
XLR: 101,000 kg
Cruising speed Mach 0.78 (828 km / h at 11,000 m / 36,000 ft)
Top speed Mach 0.82 (871 km / h at 11,000 m / 36,000 ft)
Passengers 140 to 160 165 to 189 206 to 244
Range 6,850 km 6,300 km 6,850 km 7,400 km
XLR: 8,700 km
Fuel capacity 26,730 l 29,580 l 32,940L
XLR: 36,428 to 39,549L
Passenger doors 4th
Emergency exits normal 2, optional 4 4; above the wings 4; 2 each in front of and 2 behind the wings
ACF : 6; 2 behind and 4 above the wings
6; 2 behind and 4 above the wings
Service ceiling 12,130 m
Engines (2 ×) CFM International LEAP-1A or Pratt & Whitney PW1100G
Engine diameter LEAP-1A: 1.98 m / PW1100G 2.06 m
First flight March 30, 2017 September 25, 2014 February 9, 2016 January 31, 2018 (LR)
Commissioning August 2019 ( K5 Aviation ) January 2016 ( Lufthansa ) April 2017 ( Virgin America ) December 2018 ( Arkia )
List price € 101.5 million (2018) € 110.6 million (2018) € 129.5 million (2018)

Successor type

Studies on a successor type are being developed under the project name Airbus A30X . The market launch is not expected before 2030, as Airbus is initially refreshing the current variants with the A320neo .

Comparable aircraft types

The following aircraft types are comparable products from other manufacturers :

See also


  • Dietmar Plath , Karl Morgenstern: Airbus A318, A319, A320, A321. The short and medium-haul jets from Hamburg and Toulouse . GeraMond, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-7654-7215-8 .
  • Paul Jackson: Jane's All the World's Aircraft 2005-2006 . Janes Pub, 2005, ISBN 0-7106-2684-3 .
  • Achim Figgen, Dietmar Plath, Brigitte Rothfischer: Commercial aircraft: the new type paperback . GeraMond-Verlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-7654-7051-6 .
  • Norbert Andrup: Airbus. From the A300 to the A380 and A350 . 1st edition. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-613-03330-6 .

Web links

Commons : Airbus A320 Family  - Collection of Images

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This article was added to the list of excellent articles on January 11, 2007 in this version .