The prospective order will make TAM the launch customer for the Airbus A320neo in Latin America and the third customer overall for the upgraded...

Brazil’s TAM Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding for 22 A320neos and 10 other A320-family jets.

The prospective order will make TAM the launch customer for the Airbus A320neo in Latin America and the third customer overall for the upgraded version of the A320. The airline will announce its engine selection at a later date.

The A320neo, available from 2016, will incorporate new, more efficient Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100G or CFM International LEAP-X engines and large wingtip devices called Sharklets.

TAM Airlines and Airbus performed the first Jatropha-based biofuel flight in Latin America, on November 23, 2010, using one of TAM's A320s. Studies show that Jatropha-based biofuel could reduce an airline's life-cycle footprint of CO2 and carbon monoxide greenhouse gases by up to 80 per cent, according to Airbus

Together, these technological upgrades will deliver fuel savings of up to 15 per cent, representing up to 3,600 tonnes CO2 annually per aircraft, according to Airbus. In addition, says the manufacturer, the A320neo will provide a double-digit percentage reduction in NOx emissions and significantly reduced engine noise.

“Our order for industry leading fuel efficient aircraft opens a world of possibilities for TAM, thanks to its substantially increased range capability,” says Líbano Barroso, CEO of TAM Airlines. “Ordering more A320s allows TAM to reduce costs and further improve our environmental performance.”

“The A320neo will fit neatly into TAM Airlines’ fleet, offering maximum benefit for minimum change,” says John Leahy, chief operating officer, customers for Airbus.  “This enables TAM to take full advantage of Brazil’s expected growth in air travel, especially in light of the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games, and to do so in the most eco-efficient way possible”.

Some 7,000 Airbus A320-family aircraft have been ordered and more than 4,500 delivered to more than 320 customers and operators worldwide.  The family offers 99.7 per cent dispatch reliability and extended servicing periods, according to Airbus. The A320neo has 95 per cent-plus airframe commonality with the existing A320 family but offers up to 500nm (950 km) more range or two tonnes more payload.

Airbus says the fleet of its aircraft operating in Latin America has doubled in the last five years. With more 550 aircraft sold and a record backlog of more than 250 aircraft to be delivered to its Latin American customers, today nearly 370 Airbus aircraft are flying with 21 Latin American airlines. This represents more than 60 per cent of the fleet delivered in the region, according to Airbus.