To celebrate 100 years of Flight, we want to discover the "100 Greatest" in aviation; by determining the top twenty civil aircraft, military aircraft, engine, people & moments. Here the best civil aircraft is put forward!
There are several obvious answers to the question “what is the world’s greatest aircraft” and most of them are ruled by the heart rather than the head. So I thought I’d be a little controversial and apply logic, rather than passion, to my nomination.
The A320 may lack the romantic image of the 1930s’ piston airliners or the early post-war jets, but the fact is that it has almost single-handedly returned Europe’s aerospace companies to the forefront of civil aviation.
When it was launched in 1984 it was a huge gamble – not only financially but also technologically as it set new benchmarks for flight control systems and cockpit design. And only a brave analyst would have predicted that the aircraft would better the 500 sales forecast at launch and anyone who suggested a production run in the thousands - as is now a reality - would have been locked up.
When the A320 entered service 20 years ago, it brought fly-by-wire to the masses and raised the bar for operational efficiency in the single-aisle sector.
And this was something that benefited everyone, as like Apple’s I-Pod it forced the rest of the industry to raise its game.
Boeing re-invented the 737 into a more than worthy competitor – something all-737 operators like Southwest and Ryanair are very grateful for – while the McDonnell Douglas’s DC-9-based narrowbody families withered and died as they could remain competitive in the new era that emerged.
So the A320 gets my vote – a modern classic that was way ahead of its time.
Do you agree with this choice?Why not nominate your own favourite of the following categores in our "100 Greatest" area: