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 (new engine option).[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, United States, delivered its first A321 in April 2016.[8] The aircraft family can accommodate up to 236 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 to launch customer Air France.[1] 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 28 February 2018, a total of 8,029 Airbus A320-family aircraft have been delivered, of which 7,679 are in service. In addition, another 6,126 airliners are on firm order.[3] 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] 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 December 2017, American Airlines was the largest operator of the Airbus A320 family aircraft, operating 392 aircraft.[b][3] 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).[10] 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 February 2018, a total of 6,025 A320neo family aircraft had been ordered by more than 70 airlines,[3] making it the fastest ever selling commercial aircraft.[11] The first A320neo was delivered to Lufthansa on 20 January 2016 and it entered service on 25 January 2016.[12][13]



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.[14] 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.[15] A 10th variation, conceived in 1973, later the first to be constructed, was designated the A300B10.[16] 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.[17] 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.[17][18] It was abandoned after intruding on A310 specifications.[19] VFW-Fokker, Dornier and Hawker Siddeley worked on a number of 150-seat designs.[17]

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,[20] 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,[21] 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.[22] This project was considered the forerunner of Airbus A320, encompassing the 130- to 188-seat market, powered by two CFM56s.[17] It would have a cruise speed of Mach 0.84 (faster than Boeing 737).[17] 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.[23] The group looked at three different variants, covering the 125- to 180-seat market, called SA1, SA2 and SA3.[17] Although unaware at the time, the consortium was producing the blueprints for the A319, A320 and A321, respectively.[24] 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.[17][25] However, works proceeded, and the German carrier would eventually order the twinjet.

In February 1981, the project was re-designated A320,[24] 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.[24] 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),[26] enabling flights with a distance of 2,850 nmi (5,280 km).[24] The aircraft would measure 36.04 m (118 ft 3 in) and 39.24 m (128 ft 9 in), respectively.[24] 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".[17] It eventually settled on a wider diameter, with the internal width at 3.7 m (12 ft 2 in),[17] compared to 3.45 m (11.3 ft; 136 in)[17] 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).[26] It is long and thin, offering better aerodynamic efficiency because of the higher aspect ratio than the competition, namely the 737 and MD-80.

After the oil price rises of the 1970s, Airbus needed to minimise the trip fuel costs of the A320. To that end, it adopted composite primary structures, centre-of-gravity control using fuel, glass cockpit (EFIS) and a two-crew flight deck. The end result was that the A320 consumed 50% less fuel than the 727[citation needed]. According to a study cited by the Stockholm Environmental Institute, the A320 burns 11,608 kilograms (25,591 lb) of jet fuel flying between Los Angeles and New York City, which is about 77.4 kilograms (170.6 lb) per passenger in an A320 with 150 seats.[27]

Fly-by-wire flight control system

The A320 family cockpit commonality enables pilots to quickly transition among Airbuses.

The A320 is the world’s first airliner with digital fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system: input commands through the side-stick are interpreted by flight control computers and transmitted to flight control surfaces within the flight envelope protection; in the 1980s the computer-controlled dynamic system of the Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter cross-fertilised the Airbus team which tested FBW on an A300.[28]

The A320 retained the dark cockpit (where an indicator is off when its system is running; useful for drawing attention to dysfunctions when an indicator is lit) from the A310, the first widebody designed to be operated without a flight engineer and influenced by Bernard Ziegler, first Airbus CEO Henri Ziegler's son.[29] All following Airbuses have similar human/machine interface and systems control philosophy to facilitate cross-type qualification with minimal training; for Roger Béteille, former Airbus president, this choice was one of the most difficult he had ever made.[28]


During the A320 development programme, Airbus considered propfan technology, backed by Lufthansa.[30] 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).[26] 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),[31] hence the name. It is 4% more efficient than the CFM56, with cruise thrust specific fuel consumption at 0.574 lb/lbf/h (16.3 g/kN/s) for the -A5, compared to 0.596 lb/lbf/h (16.9 g/kN/s) for the CFM56-5A1.[32]

Production and introduction

A320 parts are manufactured throughout Europe, like the horizontal stabilizer in Spain.
Outsized transport aircraft unloads an A320 fuselage part at Hamburg Finkenwerder Airport
Large parts are shipped aboard the Airbus Beluga.

The UK, France and West Germany wanted the responsibility of final assembly and the associated duties, known as "work-share arguments".[33] The Germans requested an increased work-share of 40%, while the British wanted the major responsibilities to be swapped around to give partners production and research and development experience.[33] In the end, British work-share was increased from that of the two previous Airbuses.[33]

France was willing to commit to a launch aid, or subsidies, while the Germans were more cautious.[34] The UK government was unwilling to provide funding for the tooling requested by British Aerospace (BAe) and estimated at 250 million, it was postponed for three years.[26] On 1 March 1984 the government and the manufacturer agreed 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.[35]

The programme was launched on 2 March 1984.[36] At this time, Airbus had 96 orders.[37]:48 Air France was its first customer with a "letter of intent" for 25 A320s and an option for 25 more at the 1981 Paris air show.[38] In October 1983, British Caledonian placed seven firm order, bringing total orders to more than 80.[39] Cyprus Airways became the first to place order for V2500-powered A320s in November 1984, followed by Pan Am with 16 firm orders and 34 options in January 1985, then Inex Adria.[37]:49 One of the most significant order was when Northwest Airlines placed an order for 100 A320s in October 1986, later confirmed at the 1990 Farnborough Airshow, powered by CFM56 engines.[37]:49–50

In presence of then French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac and the Prince and Princess of Wales, the first A320 was rolled out of the final assembly line on 14 February 1987 and made its maiden flight on 22 February in 3 hours and 23 minutes from Toulouse.[40] The flight test programme took 1,200 hours on 530 flights, European Joint Aviation Authorities certification was delivered on 26 February 1988.[37]:50 The first A320 was delivered to Air France on 28 March 1988.[41]

On 26 June 1988, Air France Flight 296 crashed into trees at the end of runway at Mulhouse-Habsheim Airport, three out of 130 passengers were killed.[42] In February 1990 another A320, Indian Airlines Flight 605, crash landed short of the airport runway in Bangalore, the ensuing fire contributed to the casualty count of ninety-two, out of 146 on board.[43] The press and media later questioned the fly-by-wire flight control system but 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".[44]

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

The Toulouse Blagnac final assembly line builds A320s, whereas the Hamburg Finkenwerder final assembly line builds A318s, A319s, and A321s. The Airbus factory in Tianjin, China assembles A319s, A320s, and A321s; A320s and A321s are also assembled at the Airbus Americas factory in Mobile, Alabama.[45] Airbus produced 42 A320 per month in 2015, and expects to increase to 50 per month in 2017.[46]

As Airbus targets a 60 monthly global production rate by mid-2019, the Tianjin line delivered 51 in 2016 and it could assemble six per month from four as it starts producing A320neos in 2017; 147 Airbus were delivered in 2016 in China, 20% of its production, mostly A320-family, a 47% market share as the country should become the world’s largest market ahead of the USA before 2027.[47]

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.[48][49] Its launch came on 24 November 1988 after commitments for 183 aircraft from 10 customers were secured.[48][50] 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,[51] increasing the wing area from 124 m2 (1,330 sq ft) to 128 m2 (1,380 sq ft).[52] 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.[51][53][54] The length increase required the overwing exits of the A320 to be enlarged and repositioned in front of and behind the wings.[55] 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).[51]

Alitalia was the second to receive the stretched A321, after Lufthansa.[55]

Final assembly for the A321 would be, as a first for any Airbus, carried out in Germany (then West Germany).[56] 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,[57] 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.[44] An additional $180 million (€175 million) was borrowed from European Investment Bank and private investors.[58]

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.[55] Lufthansa and Alitalia were the first to order the stretched Airbuses, with 20 and 40 aircraft requested, respectively.[55] 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.[55]

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.[57] 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.[59] It would provide direct competition for the 737–300/-700.[57] 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).[53][60][61] 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.[60] 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.[62]

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;[60][63][64] 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.[65] 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.[66]

Delivery of the first A319, to Swissair, took place on 25 April 1996, entering service by month's end.[66] 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.[66] The A319 has proved popular with low-cost airlines such as EasyJet, who has orders for 172, with 172 delivered.[3]

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.[67] 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).[68] The engines were to be supplied from two Rolls-Royce BR715s, CFM56-9s, or the Pratt & Whitney PW6000s;[67][68] 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.[68] 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.[68] Both share a wingspan of 31.0 m (101 ft 8 in)[68] 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.[67]

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,[69] at that year's Farnborough Airshow.[70] 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.[70] These cuts reduced passenger capacity from 124 on the A319 to 107 passengers in a two-class layout.[71] Range was 5,700 kilometres (3,100 nmi), or 5,950 kilometres (3,210 nmi) with upcoming Sharklets.[71]

The 107-seater was launched on 26 April 1999 with the options and orders count at 109 aircraft.[70] After three years of design, the maiden flight took place at Hamburg on 15 January 2002.[72] Tests on the lead engine, the Pratt & Whitney PW6000, revealed worse-than-expected fuel consumption.[73] 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.[73] 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.[73] On 22 July 2003, first delivery for launch customer Frontier Airlines occurred,[74] 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.[75][76]

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.[77] 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.[78] 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.[79]

Virgin America Airbus A320 Enhanced economy class Cabin with LED lighting

On 15 November 2009, Airbus announced future additions of Sharklets[80] to A320s beginning in 2012 with Air New Zealand.[81] These Airbus winglets, which are 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in) tall and weigh 200 kilograms (440 lb),[82] 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.[83] This corresponds to an annual CO2 reduction of around 700 t (690 long tons) per aircraft,[80] saving operators US$220,000 per aircraft per year.[84] The Sharklets are to be manufactured and distributed by Korean Air Aerospace Division.[85]

In 2007, Airbus introduced a new enhanced comfort cabin for the A320. 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.[86] LED ambiance lighting is optionally available. Anytime LEDs are used for the Passenger Service Unit (PSU)[87] and passengers can get information with touchscreen displays.[88] Older A320 series aircraft can be updated.[89]

New Engine Option: A320neo

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.[90][91] The choice for new engines include the CFM International LEAP-1A and the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G.[90] 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.[92] The A320neo will also include some modifications to the wing, mainly the installation of blended winglets called "Sharklets".[93]

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.[90] 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.[94] In January 2011 IndiGo reached a tentative agreement with Airbus to order 150 A320neo aircraft along with 30 more A320s.[95]

At the 2011 Paris Air Show, Airbus announced that 667 firm orders were placed.[96] A major order came from Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo for 150 aircraft,[97] and Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia for 200 A320neo, the largest commercial aviation order at the time.[98] In total the A320neo commitments made at the Paris Air Show were worth US$60.9 billion.[99] American Airlines placed an order for 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.[100] 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.[101]


An Iberia A320 after takeoff with gears retracted and flaps extended

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.


A319 left wing with spoilers deployed during landing.

The Airbus A320 family are low-wing cantilever monoplanes with a conventional empennage with a single vertical stabilizer and rudder. Its wing sweep is 25 degrees. Compared to other airliners of the same class, the A320 features a wider single-aisle cabin of 3.95 metres (156 in) outside diameter,[53] compared to 3.8 m (148 in) of the Boeing 737 or 757, and larger overhead bins. Its cargo hold can accommodate Unit Load Devices containers.

The A320 airframe includes composite materials and aluminium alloys to save weight and reduce the total number of parts to decrease the maintenance costs.[102] Its tail assembly is made almost entirely of such composites by CASA, who also builds the elevators, main landing gear doors, and rear fuselage parts.[103]

Flight deck and avionics

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 were the RMI and brake pressure indicator.

The A320 was the first civil airliner to include a full digital fly-by-wire flight control system. 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.

Early A320s used the Intel 80186 and Motorola 68010.[104] In 1988, the flight management computer contained six Intel 80286 CPUs, running in three logical pairs, with 2.5 megabytes of memory.[105]

Its design also included a full glass cockpit rather than the hybrid versions found in previous airliners. The A320's flight deck is equipped with Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS) with side-stick controllers. The A320 features an Electronic Centralised Aircraft Monitor (ECAM) which gives the flight crew information about all the systems of the aircraft.

From 2003, A320's feature liquid crystal display (LCD) units in the flight deck of its A318, A319, A320, and A321 flight decks instead of the original cathode ray tube (CRT) displays. These include the main displays and the backup artificial horizon, which was an analog display prior to this.[106]

Airbus offers an avionics upgrade for older A320, the In-Service Enhancement Package, to keep them updated.[107] Digital head-up displays are available.[108]


The suppliers provide turbofan engines for the A320 series are CFM International with the CFM56, International Aero Engines offering its V2500, and Pratt & Whitney's PW6000 engines available only for the A318.[109]

Operational history

A Spirit A320 being refueled and loaded with luggage

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 Australia, 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.[110]


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[111] to the A318/A319.

Airbus has delivered 7,979 A320 series aircraft since their certification/first delivery in early 1988, with another 6,099 on firm order (as of 31 December 2017).[3] In comparison, Boeing has shipped 9,864 737s since late 1967, with 8,358 of those deliveries since March 1988,[112] and has a further 4,668 on firm order (as of 31 December 2017).[113]

Replacement airliner

Airbus was studying a future replacement for the A320 series, tentatively dubbed NSR, for "New Short-Range aircraft".[116] 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.[117] In January 2010, John Leahy, Airbus's chief operating officer-customers, stated that an all-new single-aisle aircraft is unlikely to be constructed before 2024/2025.[118]


Airbus A320 variants
ICAO code[119] 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,[71] to 220, on the A321.[54] 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. An A319 variant known as A319LR is also developed. Military version like A319 MPA also exists. American Airlines is the world's largest airline operator of the A320 family of aircraft with 392 aircraft in service as of 30 September 2017.[3]

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).[120] 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.[48] These aircraft, the first to be manufactured, were delivered to Air Inter - later acquired by Air France - and British Airways as a result of an order from British Caledonian made prior to its acquisition.

The primary changes of the -200 over the -100 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.

Powered by two CFM International CFM56-5s or IAE V2500s with thrust ratings of 98–120 kN (22,000–27,000 lbf), its typical range with 150 passengers is 3,300 nmi / 6,100 km.[53] A total of 4,512 of the A320ceo model have been delivered, with 220 remaining on order as of 30 September 2017.[3] The closest Boeing competitor is the 737-800.[121]


An Austrian Airlines Airbus A321

As the A320 began operations in 1988, the A321 was launched as its first derivative.[48] The A321 fuselage is stretched by 6.93 metres (22 ft 9 in) with 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.[122] The A321-100 maximum takeoff weight is increased by 9,600 kg (21,200 lb) to 83,000 kg (183,000 lb).[51] 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).[52] The maiden flight of the first of two prototypes came on 11 March 1993.[55] The A321-100 entered service in January 1994 with Lufthansa.

As the A321-100 range was reduced compared to the A320, the heavier and longer range A321-200 development was launched in 1995. 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.[123] Its fuel capacity is increased to 30,030 L (7,930 US gal) and its maximum takeoff weight to 93,000 kg (205,000 lb). It first flew in December 1996 and entered service with Monarch Airlines in April 1997.

Its closest Boeing competitors are the 737-900/900ER,[121] and the 757–200.[52] A total of 1,562 of the A321ceo model have been delivered, with 231 remaining on order as of 30 September 2017.[3]


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;[53][60][61] 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".[61] 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.[64] 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.[124] The A319's launch customer, in fact, was ILFC, which had placed an order for six A319s by 1993.[63] 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[125] and it was first introduced with Swissair in April 1996. The direct Boeing competitor is the Boeing 737-700.

A total of 1,460 of the A319ceo model have been delivered, with 24 remaining on order as of 30 September 2017.[3]


ACJ319 operated by the Austrian operator MJET.
Avianca A318

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).[126] Range with eight passengers' payload and auxiliary fuel tanks (ACTs) is up to 6,000 nautical miles (11,100 km).[127][128] 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.

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,[129] Azerbaijan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy,[130] Malaysia, Slovakia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Venezuela.


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.[131]

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.[132]


IndiGo has ordered 400 A320neo aircraft.

As of 31 December 2017, 7,630 Airbus A320-family aircraft (all variants, including the A320neo family) remained in commercial service with over 330 airline operators. This includes 67 A318, 1,446 A319ceo, 4,270 A320ceo, 229 A320neo, 1,598 A321ceo and 20 A321neo aircraft.[3] Air France, Avianca, and British Airways are the only operators to operate all four variants of the A320ceo family.

Orders and deliveries

Type Orders Deliveries
Total Backlog Total 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
A318 80 80 1 1 2 2 2 6 13
A319 1,484 17 1,467 10 4 24 34 38 38 47 51 88 98
A320 4,763 196 4,567 184 251 282 306 352 332 306 297 221 209
A321 1,798 182 1,616 183 222 184 150 102 83 66 51 87 66
Total 8,125 395 7,730 377 477 491 490 493 455 421 401 402 386
Type Deliveries
2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992 1991 1990 1989 1988
A318 17 8 9 10 9
A319 105 137 142 87 72 85 89 112 88 53 47 18
A320 194 164 121 101 119 116 119 101 101 80 58 38 34 48 71 111 119 58 58 16
A321 51 30 17 35 33 35 49 28 33 35 22 16 22 16
Total 367 339 289 233 233 236 257 241 222 168 127 72 56 64 71 111 119 58 58 16

Table does not include orders and deliveries of A320neo aircraft family. Data through end of December 2017.[3][114]

Accidents and incidents

For the entire A320 family, 118 aviation accidents and incidents have occurred (the last one being Afriqiyah Airways Flight 209 on 23 Dec 2016),[133] including 35 hull loss accidents (the last one being EgyptAir Flight 804 on 19 May 2016),[134] and a total of 1393 fatalities (the last one aboard EgyptAir Flight 804 on 19 May 2016).[135]

It has seen fifty incidents where several flight displays were lost.[136] Through 2015, the Airbus A320 family has experienced 0.12 fatal hull-loss accidents for every million takeoffs, and 0.26 total hull-loss accidents for every million takeoffs.[137]


Subtype A318[71] A319[61] A320[53] A321[54]
Cockpit crew 2
Exit limit EASA[138]/FAA[139] 136 160 195/190 230
1-class max. seating[140] 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[141] 236 at 28 in (71 cm) pitch[142]
1-class, typical[140] 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[140] 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) [c]
Wing area[52] 124 m2 (1,330 sq ft), 10.3 aspect ratio 128 m2 (1,380 sq ft), 10 AR
Wing sweepback 25 degrees[143]
Tail height 12.56 m (41 ft 2 in) 11.76 m (38 ft 7 in)
Fuselage 4.14 m (13 ft 7 in) height, 3.95 m (13 ft 0 in) width, 3.70 m (12 ft 2 in) cabin width
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)[140] 39.5 t (87,100 lb) 40.8 t (89,900 lb) 42.6 t (93,900 lb) 48.5 t (107,000 lb)
Speed Cruise: Mach 0.78 (447 kn; 829 km/h)[144], MMO: Mach 0.82 (470 kn; 871 km/h)[144]
Range, typical payload[d] 3,100 nmi, 5,750 km 3,750 nmi, 6,950 km[c] 3,300 nmi, 6,100 km[c] 3,200 nmi, 5,950 km[c]
ACJ range 4,200 nmi, 7,800 km[145] 6,000 nmi, 11,100 km[146] 4,300 nmi, 7,800 km[147]
Takeoff run (MTOW, SL, ISA) 1,780 m (5,840 ft)[145] 1,850 m (6,070 ft)[146] 2,100 m (6,900 ft)[147]
Landing (MLW, SL, ISA) 1,230 m (4,040 ft)[145] 1,360 m (4,460 ft)[146] 1,500 m (4,900 ft)[147]
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)[138]
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[138]
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. ^ Final assembly in France (Toulouse,) Germany (Hamburg), China (Tianjin,) and the United States (Mobile, Alabama)
  2. ^ a b At 30 September 2017, Airbus still list American Airlines and US Airways as separate operators. Following a merger[2] of the airlines in October 2015, the American Airlines total used here is combined for both carriers
  3. ^ a b c d with sharklets
  4. ^ Passengers and bags


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External links