The Airbus A320 was the third aircraft type to be developed by Airbus and represented its entry in the market for 150-seat single-aisle airliners. The A320 quickly established itself and gave Airbus leadership of the 150-seater market hitherto dominated by the 737 series.
The Airbus A320 family, comprising the stretched 199-seat A321 and shortened 134-seat A319 and 107-seat A318, were the world’s first passenger airliners to be equipped with a digital fly-by wire flight control systems. The central column is replaced by sidestick controls, pilot inputs being sent to the flight surfaces via computers which ensure the aircraft flies efficiently and cannot exceed operating limits. Fly-by-wire also enables all Airbus aircraft to be given similar handling characteristics, greatly reducing pilot training time.
The first airline to order the Airbus A320 was Air France, which received its first aircraft in March 1988. The A319, A320 and A321 are powered by either CFM International CFM56 or International Aero Engines V2500 engines. The A318 was launched with the Pratt & Whitney PW6000, but following development problems the CFM56 powered version became the lead variant. The PW6000-powered version was certificated in January 2006.
Airbus A320 Aircraft History-
The Airbus A320 represented a milestone in the history of Airbus and laid the foundation for all subsequent models developed by the consortium. Central to the philosophy were the A320’s fly-by-wire flight control system and an all-new “glass” cockpit incorporating six identical, fully integrated colour displays, features which still form the basis of the latest Airbus types.
The A320 was launched in March 1982 and flew for the first time in February 1987. The A320-100 was superseded by the A320-200 which incorporated winglets and had a higher maximum take-off weight and more range. The A320 was the first production airliner to use composites in primary structures, the main structural components of its horizontal tail and fin being constructed from carbonfibre.
Airbus has also developed the Airbus Corporate Jetliner, a corporate version of the A320’s smaller cousin, the A319, and in October 2005 launched the A318 Elite.
Read more about the history of the Airbus A320 family in the Flight Archive