Mike Martin

The planned Airbus Industrie 100-seat A318 will deliver greater operating efficiencies and passenger comfort, the company said yesterday.

The list price is expected to be $36 million, compared with the expected $33 million for the rival 100-seat Boeing 717.

Airbus believes there is a market for 1,000 aircraft in the 100-seat class over 20 years: More significantly the A318 will complement the single aisle market which is worth 7,000 aircraft over the same period.

For Airbus, the development will grow the A320 family from 100 through to 220 seats.

The A318 is essentially an A319 with 4.5 frames removed, a reduced-size cargo door, and the addition of a small dorsal fin for lateral control in an engine-out situation.

The reduced cargo door means that the aircraft will not take containerised cargo. "We did some market research and we saw that the 100-seat market does not need containerised cargo," says John Leahy, senior vice-president, Commercial at Airbus.

The powerplant chosen is the Pratt & Whitney PW6000. Leahy says the deal with P&W is not exclusive in nature.

"We were looking for a very low cost of ownership and we have got that with Pratt & Whitney, as well as it being environmentally friendly and offering a good service level reliability," he says.

Engines optimised for the A318, together with the same wing found on the A319 featuring laminar flow technology, will deliver the efficiencies, says Leahy. For airlines, the addition of the A318 will extend the commonality across the four-strong A320 family. Pilots will be able to operate one type in the morning and switch to another in the afternoon.

Standard layouts would offer 107 seats in two-class (eight first and 99 economy) or 117 seats in all-economy configuration.

The A318 basic version would have a range of 1,500nm (2,700km) but with an option on an aircraft with a range of 2,000nm.

Airbus will now begin talking to potential customers following market authorisation with a planned formal launch by the end of the year. First flight would be in 2001 with entry into service in 2002.

Source: Flight Daily News