European regulators have disclosed that the Airbus A320 can potentially be modified to increase capacity to 195 seats.

The European Aviation Safety Agency’s update to the type certificate of the aircraft, dated 6 March, highlights a modification enabling the increase in seating.

It points out that the modification “defines a virtual envelope” for the layout of passenger accommodation.

But EASA points out that this “does not constitute an authorisation” to install more than 180 seats, the limit for the standard A320.

“A separate approval is needed for the installation of the individual customised cabin layout and the necessary cabin adaptations up to 195 seats,” adds EASA.

The disclosure preceded the delivery of Spanish budget airline Vueling’s first A320 with Airbus’s Space-Flex concept, which enables the type to increase its seat count to 186.

Vueling is the first customer to benefit from the new exit limit, says the airframer. Part of the carrier's 2013 order for 62 A320-family jets, the aircraft, MSN6483, has the Space-Flex configuration which increases available capacity at the rear of the cabin.

Airbus has been working on concepts to raise the seating capacity of the A320 family, through a combination of interior reconfiguration and changes to the exit doors.

Rival Boeing, whose 737-800 is limited to 189 seats, has detailed a version of the 737 Max which increases this capacity. Ryanair has ordered the aircraft, designated the Max 200, with a layout featuring 197 seats.

Source: Cirium Dashboard