Airbus A320: Greatest civil aircraft of all time?

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!

A3201.jpgThere 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.A320%20cockpit.jpgWhen 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:

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4 Responses to Airbus A320: Greatest civil aircraft of all time?

  1. 787fan 26 January, 2008 at 7:51 pm #

    WHAT..?? You’ve got to be kidding.
    Take your Blinders off….
    Just because the A320 introduced “Fly-by-Wire”
    does NOT make it the Greatest of ALL time.
    I guess you’ve never heard of a 707 that introduced Modern Jet Avation to the World.??
    Used by more Airlines than ANY Aircraft..
    You must be a Boeing hater..

  2. Dimitri 29 January, 2008 at 4:35 pm #

    sorry, but the key here is evolutionary versus revolutionary. the A320 can hardly be called revolutionary. evolutionary (owing to its fantastic incremental improvements)? yes. but revolutionary? no.

    it’s analgous to the A380 vs 747. The 747 was truly revolutionary for its time and introduced a quantum, order-of-magnitude leap of capacity with the concomitant effects on commercial flight travel, accessibility to the masses, etc. The A380, while a marvel of engineering, is an incremental improvement on the 747′s double-decks, huge size, etc.

    so please propose a different airplane.

    dimitri
    new york city

  3. Michael Targett - Editor, Flightglobal.com 29 January, 2008 at 5:15 pm #

    This one was always going to be a hot topic!

    Why not pitch your own views in the 100 Greatest forum?

    http://www.flightglobal.com/AirSpace/forums/1377.aspx

    Rgds,
    Michael

  4. dakota67 12 February, 2008 at 5:59 pm #

    Heavens above!With the greatest respect I feel moved to suggest that just because Airbus bunged some computers into a Boeing look-alike tube, hung a couple of off-the-shelf powerplants on it and strung some electrical wiring out to actuators,that this does not perhaps warrant the 320 being THE WORLD’s GREATEST AIRCRAFT.I mean really!
    I believe that that other great Euro Liner 0f the Skies, the Dornier X should be considered seriously. It had everything..grace…elegance..range and safety. It flew so low and so slow, that the passengers could just step off seconds before the crash. Comments? Thoughts? Critique?
    Cheers from dakota67.

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