Air Transport World

A320 rolls out this month: first flight set for March.

A320 rolls out this month; first flight set for March

Rollout of the first A320 150-seat airliner off the Airbus Industrie assembly line here this month, with first flight planned for March, marks the climax of a European-wide construction program that was officially launched in early 1984. The program has been supported by airlines in numbers to gladden the hearts of the taxpayers of the four partner nations whose money is supporting it, and which will receive a levy on sales.

At this writing Airbus had logged 369 "commitments'--orders and options-- from 15 airlines for the A320, and the company's executives are confidently predicting that the 400 sales mark will be reached by rollout date. They freely admit that the consortium was in danger of becoming a victim of its own marketing success, for at a production rate of ten aircraft in 1987, rising to 30 in 1988, nearly 60 in 1989, just over 80 in 1990 and settling down to eight each month in 1991 and successive years, production slots are filled until 1991--although there are some option places which are negotiable. Against the background of this potential logjam, some airlines have been hurrying to convert options into firm orders.

Airbus has considered the possibility of opening a second assembly line, in the United States, to relieve the pressure, and Lockheed has expressed itself interested in establishing such a line. ATW was told here that the consortium will not progress this idea further at present, but if it should pick up another massive deal such as the one from Northwest Airlines, which is for 100 A320s, ten firm buys and 90 options, the plan could become very live.

U.S. production attraction

Assembly in the U.S. would have obvious attractions of both a technical and aero-political nature if connected with a further big buy, by a U.S. major, of European rather than U.S. equipment. A U. …

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