Airbus has decided to offer two new engine types as optional choices for newly produced examples of its strong-selling A320 single-aisle family.
Airlines now have a choice between CFM International’s new LEAP-X engine and Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1100G engine. Known as the A320neo, the re-engined A320 family will also sport large, fuel-saving wingtip devices called Sharklets, which are similar in appearance to the Blended Winglets found on Boeing jets.
Airbus will start deliveries of the A320neo family in spring 2016.
Almost all Airbus A320-family jets built to date (and up to 2016) are powered by either the CFM56-5B engine or the International Aero Engines V.2500-A5 engine. CFM International, which manufactures the CFM56 family (the most successful commercial jet engine program in history, with more than 20,000 engines sold), is a joint venture between General Electric and France’s Snecma, while IAE is a five-partner joint venture whose largest shareholders are Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce.
Airbus has said it will continue to offer its existing engine choices on A320-family jets for customers who want them. More than 4,400 A320-family jets are already in service and some customers may decide the operational-commonality and parts-commonality benefits outweigh economically the cost savings from the reduced fuel-burn offered by the new engines. Customer should be able to buy new A320-family jets with existing engine types and Sharklets, if they wish.
China has already chosen the LEAP-X1C version of the new CFM International engine for its indigenously designed and built Comac C919 150-seat jet, while a version of Pratt & Whitney PurePower geared-turbofan engine, the PW1524G, is to power the Bombardier CSeries family from 2013. The CSeries and aircraft such as the Comac C919 and Russia’s indigenous Irkut MS-21 represent the main reason why Airbus (and potentially Boeing as well, for the 737NG) have chosen to offer more fuel-efficient engine types for their established, high-selling single-aisle jet families.
Airbus says the A320neo will deliver fuel savings of up to 15 per cent over the existing A320 family, the saving representing up to 3,600 tonnes of CO2 savings annually per A320neo. In addition, A320neo customers will benefit from a double-digit reduction in emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), reduced engine noise, lower operating costs and up to 500 nautical miles (950km) more range or two tonnes more payload.
With these new engine technologies becoming available in the middle of this decade, Airbus says it wanted to be able to provide its customers with the latest and most eco-efficient technologies to improve aircraft performance and airline operations continuously, while reducing the environmental impact of their aircraft. Airbus sees a market potential of 4,000 A320neo Family aircraft over the next 15 years.
“We are confident that the A320neo will be a great success across all markets and with all types of operators, offering them maximum benefit with minimum change. We are leveraging a reliable, mature aircraft and are making it even more efficient and environmentally friendly,” says Tom Enders, president and CEO of Airbus.
Over the past year or more, Airbus says it has carefully assessed and weighed up the benefits of the A320neo business case with the allocation of the highly skilled engineering resources needed, while at the same time making sure to secure the engineering skills required on other Airbus aircraft programs.
“Finding the necessary resources for the A320neo wasn’t exactly a walk in the park,” Enders added. “The enabler was to devise a stringent phasing of critical engineering assets throughout our various development programs and to optimize the management and organisation of all our programmes and R&T (research and technology) projects. Our international engineering centers, suppliers and partners play a big role in this.”
Airbus’ decision to launch the A320neo program follows approval given by the Board of Directors of EADS, Airbus’ shareholder company.