Airbus’ Much Anticipated A320neo Makes Maiden Flight

by Douglas Royce, Forecast International

The first Airbus A320neo test aircraft made its first flight on September 25. Airbus began assembly of the aircraft, MSN6101, in March and rolled it out of the factory in July.

Forecast International projects that Airbus will deliver 5,472 A320 family aircraft from 2014 through 2023. This total includes both the current A320ceo family and the new re-engined NEO models.

The A320 family competes against the Boeing 737 family in the market for single-aisle airliners. Currently, the Boeing 737-700 and 737-900ER outsell the A319 and A321 in the lower and higher seat ranges, respectively, while the A320 outsells the 737-800 in the most popular middle range.

The firm order backlog for Airbus’ A320 family totaled 4,298 aircraft at the end of 2013, up nearly 25 percent over its backlog at the end of the prior year. Aside from strong demand for the current model, the market’s response to the launch of re-engined NEO models has been beyond even Airbus’ expectations. Orders continue to pile up.

Airbus will introduce the A320neo first. It was originally scheduled to enter service in 2016, but Airbus said in April 2011 that high customer demand had led it to move the targeted entry-into-service date to October 2015. Introduction of the A319neo and A321neo models will follow at six-month intervals.

Boeing has responded to the threat posed by the NEO models by launching its own re-engining program for the 737, and demand for the new 737 MAX family has also been very strong.

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