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Feb 13, 2016

Leaner, greener, quieter, the first A320 NEO in service exceeds targets

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

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

A hangar view of the new tech engine on the Lufthansa A320 NEO
A hangar view of the new tech engine on the Lufthansa A320 NEO

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.


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10 thoughts on “Leaner, greener, quieter, the first A320 NEO in service exceeds targets

  1. Tango

    The A321NEO flew first with the CFM LEAP engine.

    Ironically and most interesting, the Boeing LEAP engine is smaller and lighter than the A320 series and has the same thrust.

  2. comet

    Seems like the engine makers are doing all the hard work, while the airframe assemblers sit back and take in the profits.

  3. Rodney Pearce

    Comet, I don’t follow your logic. If the new design stimulates sales of new airliners then surely they’re also shipping more engines, clearly to their benefit, than if the industry stood still.

    I also don’t understand why you believe that the airframe designers aren’t pulling their weight. The original 737 is not the 737 of today with new engines, and the original A320 is not a NEO airframe either. They’ve evolved over time, but in a lot of ways remain very similar.

    This actually makes a lot of sense. If you can deliver an almost new jet that is very familiar to those that operated the older ones, there is less cost and impact to your customer.

    It has likely been very carefully designed to maximise the benefit of the new engines, without offsetting that benefit with cost of introduction to your customers.

  4. Tango

    Not only makes sense, with the tooling paid for, they can crank them out at very low cost.

    first guy to blink and come out with all new has 10 billion bucks or so on the table they need to recover.

    the other guy keeps making his low cost aircraft. Airbus having the advantage with a latter airframe that works with the new larger engines (though I bet they are sorry they did not get the LEAPB as its got all the fuel efficiency and lower weight and drag!)

    Boeing is talking on splitting the market with an all new aircraft, supposedly in a underserved segment. Will see.

  5. Ben Sandilands

    Given the massive contribution Boeing 737s make to the French aerospace sector through CFM International, my guess is that the LEAP design and variants will be kept at maximum relevance to the both families of airframes, and they may well pitch for the MoM or larger all new designs as well.

  6. Dan Dair

    The further we got into the previous posting about the new Boeing MoM,
    the more I thought Ghost was probably correct in his suggestion;
    That it was all designed to rebound Boeings share price
    & had little to do with any intention to build actual airframes.?

  7. ghostwhowalksnz

    Tango , the two engines types for the A320 have been certified and the weights are essentially the same

    PW1100G is 2857kg dry 24,000- 33,000lbsf thrust

    LEAP1A/1C is 2990 kg (incl fluids) 32158lbsf thrust

    As regards diameter the P&W fan case dia is 2.224m while the Leap1A is 2.543 wide and 2.368 tall ( slightly squashed.

    They seem to be talking about different things ? But you could say they are essentailly much the same.

  8. Simon Gunson


    Excuse my ignorance. I understand the geared technology behind the PW1000G, but please could someone explain for me the engineering concept backing the CFM LEAP alternative?

    Is the difference just the thrust range?

  9. ghostwhowalksnz

    Simon, the Leap uses technology from the larger 787 and 777 range. They seem to be a number of changes but still keeping the 2 shaft layout.
    Front fan has reduced blades, a 3D design using carbon fibre ( the fan case is carbon fibre but the PW design uses this too). Improved fan blade design for HP compressor, advanced burner design which runs hotter, for the turbine they have ceramic matrix shroud.
    The CFM56 came out in 1974, while there are tweaks and reliability improvements a lot has changed since then.
    Its a big ask to get the claimed fuel consumption from the beginning so actual test flights will see.

  10. Simon Gunson


    So I am assuming then that Leap has more sophisticated blade cooling?

    Running hotter I am guessing has some sort of efficiency advantage, but also if the core is hotter then there is a higher risk of failure?
    Perhaps translating to lower TBOs?

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