Airbus Industrie rolls out the A319 to complete its present range of airliners.

Julian Moxon/TOULOUSE


IN JUST 25 years since its creation in December 1970, Airbus Industrie has fielded a range of airliners spanning 124-350 seats, knocked McDonnell Douglas (MDC) into third place in the big league of civil-aircraft manufacturers and forced Boeing to completely re-evaluate its approach to the market.

The arrival of the 124-seat A319 at the low-capacity end of the market essentially completes the Airbus range, although derivatives of existing models will continue to be fielded. The need to compete with Boeing at the high-capacity end of the seating spectrum remains, but talks between Airbus and Boeing on possible co-operation on a very-large-capacity transport (VLCT) have not borne fruit, leaving Airbus with the difficult question of whether to go it alone and invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a product about which the market has yet to give clear signals.


Fuselage commonality

Airbus prides itself on having based an entire range of aircraft around two specific fuselage sections which can be stretched or shortened to accommodate market requirements. Boeing used the original 707 section in the 727, 737 and 757, while MDC has made almost legendary use of the old DC-9 section in the subsequent MD-80 and MD-90 airframes. Airbus, however, was the first to create a range of widebodied (twin-aisle) aircraft based on a particular fuselage section. The A300-600 (derived from the original A300 with which Airbus launched itself on to the market with the world's first widebody twin in May 1969), the A310-300, A330 and the A340 all share the same widebody section.

Single-aisle development followed the same route. The original 150-seat A320 was launched in March 1984, to be followed in November 1989 by the launch of the stretched 185-seat A321 (which entered service earlier this year). Now, the pair have been joined by the shortened A319.

Market acceptance of the smallest Airbus yet has been good, with 81 firm orders to date. Perhaps more significantly, the majority of these are with existing operators of single-aisle Airbusses for which the cross-cockpit commonality of the range has been a major deciding factor. Of the five customers for the A319 so far, four (Lufthansa, Air Inter, ILFC and Swissair) have also ordered A320s and A321s. Airbus also offers the airlines a clause whereby they can swap one type for another to accommodate changing market conditions.

With total sales of the A320 and A321 standing at 824, the prospects for the A319 being ordered as an additional family member appear good. Airbus estimates that 2,216 aircraft will be demanded in the category over the next 20 years. Assuming its 30% share of the global civil-aircraft market is reflected in this, the consortium can expect to sell around 740 single-aisle aircraft during the period.

Commonality has been the byword in the Airbus family philosophy from the beginning, although the concept really took hold with the launch of the A320, the cockpit of which became the standard for all subsequent Airbus aircraft, including the twin-aisle A330/A340. This has given the consortium what it claims is a major marketing advantage in being able to offer reduced training and maintenance costs.

The differences between the A320/A321 and A319 have been kept to a bare minimum, Airbus having elected for an approach involving the lowest possible risk with the highest possible commonality. According to John Leahy, the consortium's vice-president for marketing, the idea of creating a more specialised design for a small aircraft was discussed "...but we listened to the was a triumph for them to persuade us to do nothing". He says that the concept of a single-aisle family was driven by the airlines. "When you add the A319 to a fleet containing the A320 or A321 you reap a huge benefit," he says. "They all agree with that."

This also kept development costs low: the A319 has cost just $275 million to put on the market, against $480 million for the A321. The difference arose because the larger aircraft required a completely revised flap system, a strengthened wing, uprated landing gear and some structural reinforcement. Both aircraft have, however, been entirely funded by the consortium's four partners (Aerospatiale, Daimler-Benz Aerospace, British Aerospace and CASA), and are therefore the first Airbusses not to have required government backing.


Identical wing

The A319 wing is identical to that of the A320. System changes are limited to software adaptation to cater for the slightly different handling characteristics resulting from the shorter fuselage, while the empennage and landing gear are completely unchanged. The powerplants are derated versions of the CFM56-5A and IAE V2500-A5 available for all A320/A321 variants, producing 98kN (22,000lb)-thrust in their basic version and 105kN as an option.

Shortening the fuselage involved removing four fuselage frames forward of the wing, and a further three behind, to reduce overall length compared to that of the A320 by a total of 373mm. This is considerably less than the stretch made to the A321, which involved 13 frames measuring a total of 693mm.

The lower seating capacity of the A319 also meant that the twin (forward) overwing exits found on the larger aircraft could be reduced to one. Finally, the rear bulk-cargo door has been deleted, and a new aft container door introduced which is able to accommodate reduced height LD3-46 containers. This door has been moved slightly to the rear to allow access for the container-loading vehicle.

The A319 has a longer range than other A320 variants - with the same fuel capacity at a lower maximum take-off weight (64t versus 73.5t for the A320-200). An extra LD3 container-sized auxiliary fuel tank can be added to the basic aircraft at the forward end of the aft hold to produce the A319 option, at a 70t maximum take-off weight, increasing the basic aircraft's range by 2,000km (1,100nm) to 5,550km. This will be aimed mainly at specialised versions of the aircraft for roles such as VIP transport.

Air, electrical and hydraulic power-generation equipment remains unchanged from the original A320, although the majority of system runs, such as ducts, tubes and wiring, have had to be modified to cater for the shorter fuselage. Auxiliary power units are also the same, customers being offered a choice between the AlliedSignal GTCP 36-300 and APIC APS 3200 units.


Fly by wire

The A320 was the first commercial airliner in the world with composite materials for some primary structures, and the first to be equipped with a full fly-by-wire (FBW) electronic flight-control system and sidestick controls. All remain unchanged on the A319.

Airbus makes the point that although the A320 was launched 11 years ago, these features are still advanced enough for the consortium to retain the technology leadership upon which it has always based its marketing approach.

The A319, therefore, has full electronic control (via hydraulic actuators) of ailerons, elevators, spoilers, flaps and leading-edge slats, while the rudder and tailplane trim are connected to the FBW system but can be signalled mechanically to provide back-up pitch and yaw control.

Each wing features five-segment leading-edge slats (one inboard, four outboard of the engine pylon), two-segment Fowler-type trailing-edge flaps and five-segment spoilers, with all ten spoilers available as lift dumpers, the outer four being available for roll control and the inner six as airbrakes.

Composite materials feature extensively in the A319, as they have in all Airbusses since the A310, which introduced carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) to the elevator and fin box, the first time such materials had been used in the primary structure of a commercial aircraft.


Composite materials

Composites, either CFRP, glassfibre-reinforced plastic, or aramid-reinforced plastic, feature in the spoilers, wing leading edges, landing-gear doors, flap-track fairings and all other fairings, including the fuselage belly fairing. In the A320, and subsequently the A330/A340, this list has been extended to include the fin leading edge, fin/fuselage fairing, rudder, tailplane, elevators and numerous smaller components.

Workshare in the latest Airbus is identical to that of all previous single-aisle aircraft. Aerospatiale and Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA) are responsible for the forward and rear fuselages respectively, British Aerospace for the wings, CASA for the fin and DASA for the horizontal stabiliser.

As with the A321, final assembly of the A319 will take place at DASA's Hamburg factory, with both aircraft being produced on the same line according to the order requirement. The current plan is to produce four A319s in 1995, 18 in 1996, 37 in 1997 and 20 in 1998. The first aircraft is due to be delivered to ILFC in April 1996, which will lease it to Swissair.



FIVE MAJOR carriers - ILFC, Air Inter, Lufthansa Swissair and Air Canada - have now ordered the A319 to complement their existing A320s and A321s. According to Airbus marketing vice-president John Leahy, the financial advantage gained by so doing will amount to "...around $750,000 per aircraft per year over a 15-year period", mainly through training and maintenance savings.

The decision to purchase all three variants will, according to Lufthansa "...allow all three to be operated as a single type, since a pilot trained to fly one of the three is automatically qualified to fly the other two without retraining".

Lufthansa wanted to replace its existing Boeing 737-200s and admits that the purchase price of the new 737-600 (the smallest variant of the new Boeing 737 range) "...seemed particularly attractive". An analysis of operating costs, however, showed that "...the 737-600 variant could not be operated economically in the Lufthansa fleet".

The airline adds that the Boeing 737-300 will be retired from the fleet in a few years' time, and that " contrast, the A319 offers all the benefits of a modern aircraft". The A319 fuel consumption per passenger is down by 58%.

An indication of the competition faced by the A319, however, is seen in Lufthansa's candid admission that the wings of the Airbus aircraft (being the same size as those of the larger A320) "...brought disadvantages in the weight-per-seat comparison" since the higher take-off weight means higher airport and air-traffic-control charges. "On the other hand," says the airline, "the fuel consumption of the A319 is 10% better," and maintenance expenses are guaranteed.

Air Canada also cites the "...unrestricted interchange of flightcrew with the A320" (with resulting savings in training and improved pilot productivity) as the main reason for ordering the A319. The airline - which has become the second largest Airbus operator in North America - says the A319 brings "...significantly reduced maintenance costs", has almost double the range of its old McDonnell Douglas DC-9s and lowers training costs for its A340s.


Cross-crew qualification

A319 pilots will be working in an identical cockpit to that of the A320 and A321, which means that a pilot holding an A320-type rating is automatically qualified to fly the A319 and A321 (after a briefing on the differences).

Added to this, operators can take advantage of the cross-crew qualification (CCQ) system which allows pilots of Airbus narrowbodies to fly widebodies, and vice versa, after short "difference training" courses to get the new type rating. CCQ courses vary according to the degree of commonality or difference between the base aircraft. For example, an A319/A320/A321 pilot wishing to qualify for an A330 would, because they are all twins, require a day's less training than for an A340, which requires 13 days.

Pilots wishing to undergo CCQ training must have a minimum of three months and 150h experience on the base aircraft. The aim for many airlines is to establish the concept of "mixed-fleet flying", being considered by the airworthiness authorities.

Source: Flight International