Air France is pushing aircraft-makers to develop a successor to the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 and if the carrier's targets and requirements are met it plans to order around 150 aircraft.

The aircraft has to deliver a 25% improvement on fuel burn which means a 15% improvement on the engines, Air France single-aisle fleet director new aircraft and fleet planning department, Henri Hurlin, told delegates today at the Asian Aerospace Congress.

Hurlin also says "we are looking at a bigger aircraft" with variants ranging from 160 to 240 seats and "we need to reduce the passenger loading and disembarking times."

This means "we are looking at a twin-aisle aircraft but we don't want a widebody used as a short-haul aircraft because we don't need the range."

"We were looking at 2012 for replacements but the manufacturers did not respond so we are looking at 2015 to 2016."

On the sidelines of the conference Hurlin told ATI that Air France needs the new aircraft to replace its Airbus A320s starting with those built in the 1990s.

He says the order would eventually be for 150 aircraft because that is about the number of A320s in the fleet. According to Flightglobal's ACAS database Air France has 151 A320-family aircraft with another 16 on order.

In his speech Hurlin mentioned open-rotor technology as a possible solution. But on the sidelines of the event he says Air France would have to delay the A320 replacement programme until 2020 if it wants open-rotor engine technology.

"The year 2020 is more likely" for open-rotor technology, says Hurlin, adding that there are issues to work through with this technology such as noise and how to mount the engines on the aircraft fuselage.

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Source: Air Transport Intelligence news