Airbus plans to boost A320 efficiency by 4-5%

Airbus is looking to tackle the narrowbody market after revealing plans to upgrade its A320, with an aimed 4-5 % efficiency gain.

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By  Barbara Cockburn Published  July 9, 2006

Airbus is looking to tackle the narrowbody market after revealing plans to upgrade its A320, with an aimed 4-5 % efficiency gain. Called the ‘A320 Enhanced’, Airbus said the single-aisle family will incorporate an aerodynamic tidy-up, engine improvements, weight savings, a new cabin and possibly new large winglets, which are currently in flight test. John Leahy, Airbus’s chief operating officer, said: “The 2% greater fuel efficiency will be provided by the winglets, the aerodynamic clean up will contribute another 1%, and further tweaking another 1%.” Service entry for the modified plane is scheduled for 2008. However Leahy does not believe that a quantum leap in single aisle aircraft efficiency will be possible until the arrival of new engine technology in the middle of the next decade. He said that the business case for a new-generation single aisle aircraft would not be viable unless it offered at least a 10% improvement in fuel burn. “But if today’s A320 improves by 4-5% we have just moved the goal posts,” he said. “Who is going to roll over a fleet to a new generation aircraft for 5% better than an A320 today? Especially if another 10% improvement might be coming in the second half of the next decade based on new engine technology.” Leahy said the A320 Enhanced would be perfect for airlines who do not already own a family of A320s. Mario Heinen, senior vice president for the A320 programme, said: “We are ambitious. We are proud that we have the best aircraft in its class, but that does not stop us from non-stop innovation to further raise the barrier and get ahead of anybody who wants to catch up by miles.” Heinen remained tight lipped as to the price of the aircraft but said: “A new A320 that sports these updates will not be the same price as the old. There will be value added. There will be a fair price.”

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