Airbus looks at exit options for 189-seat A320

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Airbus believes it might be able to find an alternative to pop-up overwing exits that will nevertheless allow the A320 to be certificated for 189 passengers.

Exit limits restrict the A320 to a maximum of 180 passengers, but the airframer is looking to increase capacity to match that of the rival Boeing 737-800.

The manufacturer’s Space-Flex rear galley can provide additional room for further seats, as can slimmer seat design, but Airbus still needs to secure regulatory approval.

“It’s not so much a ‘real estate’ problem,” says Airbus executive vice-president for programmes Tom Williams, referring to the freedom to reconfigure the space inside the aircraft.

While the 737 used rapid pop-up overwing exits to secure 189-seat clearance, the A320 has conventional removable hatches, and Williams indicates that the airframer is not necessarily looking to copy its rival.

“We think we may be able to avoid [pop-up exits],” he says. While details remain sketchy, he says there is “some room for playing with the doors” and potential benefits from using evacuation slides.

But he expects the aircraft would “probably” need to undertake an evacuation demonstration to achieve certification for the higher seat-count.