A320neo successfully completes first flight

A320neos billed as world’s best-selling single-aisle family

Airbus has staged the maiden test flight of an upgraded aircraft on which it is pinning plans for hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue. The first A320neo to take to the skies landed back at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport France at 14:22 local time after what Airbus described as a successful first flight of two-and-a-half hours. In the cockpit were two Airbus experimental test pilots and a test-flight engineer.

“The aircraft through its incremental innovations combines the most efficient engine and aerodynamic technologies, as well as new cabin features to bring to market a product which will consume 20% less fuel per passenger,” stressed Fabrice Brégier, Airbus president and chief executive.

For its first flight, the A320neo, powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM engines, lifted off from Blagnac at around 60 tonnes. The maiden flight marks the beginning of a flight-test campaign involving eight aircraft two new engine options.

The A320neo family, encompassing the A319neo, A320neo and A321neo, seating up to 160, 189 and 240 passengers respectively, is billed as the world’s best-selling single-aisle aircraft family. To date the A320neo has won over 3,200 orders from 60 customers, representing a 60% market share.

Overall, the “neo” development fleet will perform a combined total of 3,000 hours of flight testing. The A320neo with Pratt & Whitney engines will be the first variant in the family to receive type certification followed by its entry into service in the fourth quarter of 2015 with first operator Qatar Airways.

The Lufthansa Group also took an early decision to buy planes from the A320neo family and congratulated Airbus on the successful maiden flight. Approval to purchase the model was made in March 2011. Further orders followed, most recently last week, when 15 more aircraft of this type were ordered for SWISS. The group is due to take delivery of its first A320neos in 2016.

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[pictured: A320neo first flight preparation; photo courtesy Airbus]

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