Air Transport World

17 years young: the A320 was revolutionary when it was introduced; now it's well into middle age, or is it?(M & E)

When the first A320 was delivered to launch customer Air France in October 1987, it represented a revolution in commercial aircraft flight control technology and also featured the most extensive use of automation and computerization on any civil transport flightdeck. Today, with Boeing having embraced fly-by-wire in its two most recent new aircraft programs, and when even regional jets such as the Embraer 170 offer it, it may be difficult to recall the controversy generated by the aircraft.

Although the "pilot-in-command versus computer-in-command" argument no longer is a staple of air show debate, a question remains: With the program now well into its second decade--middle age for an airframe--how well have the airplane and its systems held up? Judging by the marketplace, where the A320 continues to battle neck-and-neck with the 737NG for every new order, the answer has to be pretty well. Airbus continues to deny that any major overhauls are in the works. "Is a Mark 2 version around the corner for the A320? No," comments Stuart Mann, director-product marketing. More than 3,100 aircraft of all marques have been ordered by more than 121 customers and 2,200-plus have been delivered.

Operators do not appear to be calling for any major changes Customers are continuing to add A320s and other family members to their fleets and are mostly happy with the upgrades that keep the oldest A320s looking and running like the youngest--even if they may grumble about the price of doing it. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.