Airbus has successfully completed the first flight of the first A320neo.
The first Airbus A320neo to fly landed safely back at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France at 2:22 p.m. local time on September 25 after successfully completing a first flight lasting approximately two-and-a-half hours.
Airbus performed the first flight of the A320neo from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, which is where its headquarters and its largest production facilities are located.
The first flight-test A320neo – which carries the registration F-WNEO and has the manufacturer’s serial number MSN6101 – was flown by Airbus experimental test pilots Philippe Pellerin and Etienne Miche de Malleray. Accompanying them in the cockpit was test-flight engineer Jean-Paul Lambert.
Monitoring the progress of the flight profile were the flight-test engineers Manfred Birnfeld and Sandra Bour-Schaeffer.
For its first flight, the first flight-test A320neo, which is powered by Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100G-JM geared-turbofan engines, took off from Toulouse-Blagnac with a take-off weight of approximately 60 tonnes.
During the flight, which took the aircraft around southern France, the crew explored the aircraft’s flight envelope and systems operation. The aircraft’s progress was monitored by experts on the ground in real time via a direct telemetry link from the aircraft.
This maiden flight marks the beginning of a rigorous flight test campaign involving eight aircraft encompassing all models of the Airbus A320neo family and both new engine options – the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100G-JM and the CFM International LEAP-1A.
Overall, the A320neo-family development fleet will perform a combined total of around 3,000 hours of flight testing, according to Airbus.
The A320neo with Pratt & Whitney engines will be the first variant in the A320neo family to receive type certification, which Airbus expects to achieve in the third quarter of 2015.
Airbus expects the A320neo to enter airline service in the fourth quarter of next year, with first operator Qatar Airways.
There are three basic models in the Airbus A320neo family. These are the A319neo, A320neo and A321neo, which respectively will seat up to 160, 189 and 240 passengers.
To date the A320neo has won firm orders for more than 3,200 aircraft from 60 customers, which Airbus says represents a 60 per cent market share to date.
However, the competing Boeing 737 MAX program was launched nine months after the A320neo program. The 737 MAX family has won firm orders for almost 2,300 aircraft to date, from 47 customers.