The A320 family of Airbus aircraft (including from small to big the A318, A319, A320 and A321) has been a huge success for the European aircraft manufacturer since the late 1980s. It is no wonder that some major airlines such as Lufthansa still fly the aircraft successfully – LH’s first and oldest A320 is still in service! The airline’s oldest A320 is registered D-AIPA (c/n 069) was delivered in October 1989 and it is currently the oldest frame in the whole fleet of short- and long-haul aircraft. More than 26 years after it’s delivery, Lufthansa and Airbus have reached another milestone…
By the end of 2010 it was clear to Airbus managers and staff that something had to be done in order to be able to compete with Boeing and make sure that the Europeans would stay ahead of the game in the single-aisle market. Both, the Boeing 737 family and its A320 family counterparts were still successful in the market, while it became clear that new technology was evolving. Especially the engines had to be upgraded to produce more power and consume less fuel. Fortunately for Airbus and contrary to Boeing, the first generation of A320s was designed with enough space under the wings to allow for bigger engines later on.
After years of hard work to make a good product even better, the first Airbus A320NEO (neo meaning “new engine option”) performed its roll out from the Toulouse factory on 01 July 2014 to start test flying for certification in September 2014. One and half years later Airbus gained certification approval from both EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration of the United States). Qatar Airways was supposed to be launch customer for the type, but backed down shortly before delivery, giving Lufthansa the honor of flying the first A320NEO in regular passenger operation. With roughly 4.500 NEOs on order the aircraft is a success story already and will also be built as A319NEO and A321NEO.
Here is a list of improvements compared to the previous model that is now being called A320CEO (current engine option) and that also has thousands of order outstanding…
* NEW ENGINES – customers can choose between two models, the CFM International LEAP and Pratt & Whitney PW1000G (a geared turbofan engine)
* Sharklets (have been applied to A320CEOs already)
* Cabin modifications allowing more seats at the “same comfort level”, with LED lightning, air purification and bigger luggage compartments.
* aerodynamic refinements reducing noise and consumption
Launch customer Lufthansa received the first A320NEO on 22 January 2016. It carries registration D-AINA, construction number 6801 and is equipped with Pratt & Whintey PW1127G engines to carry up to 180 passengers. The airline will receive a couple more NEOs (and CEOs) and sister-ship D-AINB will be ready for delivery soon, as it is already painted in Lufthansa colors.
Now, let’s look at the aircraft itself. Can you spot the difference to all the other A320s? I have photographed D-AINA a couple of days ago at Munich Airport and was the only spotter present on the southern side of the airport when the aircraft came in. I wonder where everybody else was… A big thank you goes to the locals who helped me in getting the in-time information on which runway this beautiful bird would land!
You can find more images of Lufthansa’s new flagship in the Airbus A320neo gallery!