A320neo entry advances to 2015 with PW as lead engine

Toulouse
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Airbus is bringing forward the entry-into-service date for its A320neo to October 2015, and designated Pratt & Whitney's PW1100G turbofan as the lead development engine.

The decision advances the arrival of the A320neo by around six months, the airframer having previously identified the second quarter of 2016 as the date of introduction.

Airbus is also swapping the schedule for the other re-engined variants. The A319neo will become the second variant produced, six months later, rather than the A321neo.

Speaking in Toulouse today, Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy said: "We've managed that due to demand and our capability to do so."

Airbus has not, however, identified a launch operator.

Leahy says he expects the total sales of the A320neo to exceed 500 aircraft by the Paris air show in June, having logged commitments for more than 300.

He expects to disclose another Latin American customer for the type - Brazil's TAM having already been identified - within the next couple of weeks, and adds that there are also new customers lined up in Asia and Europe.

Airbus' decision to nominate the PW1100G as lead engine will allow industrial development of the re-engined A320 variant to "begin in earnest", says the airframer.

Advancement of the schedule means Airbus will develop the A319neo - probably a PW1100G-powered aircraft - six months later and the A321neo six months after that.

Leahy expects the CFM International to emerge with its Leap-X engine up to nine months behind the lead powerplant schedule, although "no longer than a year".

Indian carrier IndiGo, lessor International Lease Finance and Lufthansa have all opted for the PW1100G for their A320neos.

Airbus is to use eight prototype airframes for the overall development programme, in order to account for all permutations of aircraft and engine variants, as well as both flight management system options.