Lufthansa has formally taken delivery of its first Airbus A320 NEOs even though the new tech upgrade to the single aisle jet has been in service with the German airline since early in the New Year.
Whatever the ceremonial sequencing issues may have been, the Pratt & Whitney geared geared turbo fan driven jet is meeting or exceeding all of its promises including giving passengers a very quiet ride.
The NEO or new engine option version of the best selling single aisle jet has been ordered by Qantas low cost subsidiary Jetstar and Air New Zealand for domestic, trans Tasman and regional international destinations such as Bali in this market, although no dates for introduction on those routes have yet been announced.
Both airlines have placed orders which can be delivered as standard sized A320 NEOs or the higher capacity stretch, the A321 NEO.
In a media release Airbus says “The first experiences with the A320 NEO clearly show that the 15 percent lower fuel consumption mark has not only been achieved but even slightly exceeded. The significantly quieter engines also increase customer comfort on-board and provide relief to residents near airports by reducing noise emissions.”
Qatar Airways was to have been first to take the A320 NEO in December, but deferred putting the jet into service pending resolution of an engine cooling issue which to date has been resolved operationally by a more leisurely engine start procedure which can add a few minutes to flight times.
That issue with the Pratt and Whitney geared turbo fan design is expected to be sorted out in the near future. A more mainstream engine design, the CFM LEAP engine is the other option for the A320 NEO family, and is already being flown on other test aircraft.
With many buyers of the A320 NEOs uncommitted as to choice of engine, much is at stake between the two different answers to reducing fuel consumption, emissions and noise in larger single aisle jets.
Ben Sandilands has reported and analysed the mechanical mobility of humanity since late 1960 - the end of the age of great scheduled ocean liners and coastal steamers and the start of the jet age. He’s worked in newspapers, radio and TV in a wide range of roles as a journalist at home and abroad for 56 years, the last 18 freelance.