Published on December 22nd, 2017 | by Mark Dwyer


First Irish Airbus A320neo

The photo above was taken by Terry Murphy at Cork on Friday 15th December.

On the 30th November the first Airbus A320neo, EI-SIA, was registered in Ireland. It’s registered to SAS Ireland and the company are planning to operate nine of the type in total, five will be based at London Heathrow and the remaining four in Malaga. The venture is a subsidiary of SAS and will operate about 65% of all SAS flights to/from London and allocate 85% of its departures to those routes. Four A320neos are to be allocated to the Malaga base with sourcing of flight crew underway.  It is to operate 80% of SAS flights to/from Malaga and about 80% of its departures will be on Scandinavia-Malaga leisure flights. Summer 2018 routes include Oslo-Heathrow, Copenhagen, Oslo & Stockholm-Dublin and many more. But let’s look at the aircraft itself in some more detail and what sets it apart from the Airbus A320ceo (Current Engine Option).


The Airbus A320neo family is a development of the A320 family of narrow-body airliners, launched on 1st December 2010 by Airbus. It is essentially a re-engine; neo stands for new engine option, with a choice of CFM International LEAP-1A or Pratt & Whitney PW1000G engines. The first flight of the A320neo took place on 25th September 2014. It was introduced by Lufthansa on 25th January 2016. Airbus has 5,254 firm orders as of November 2017. By comparison, the original A320 was launched in March 1984, first flew on 22nd February 1987, and was first delivered in March 1988 to launch customer Air France. As of 30th November, there are 118 Airbus A320ceo Family aircraft registered in Ireland. Aer Lingus are the biggest operator with 37 of the type.

At launch in December 2010, Airbus forecast a 4,000 aircraft market over the following 15 years and development costs were predicted to be “slightly more than €1 billion”. The neo list price would be $6 million more than the ceo, including $3.5 million for airframe modifications and around $0.9 million for the sharklets. The A320neo was planned for service entry in spring 2016, the A321neo six months later and the A319neo again six months after. The A320neo and A321neo flew around 4,000h for both powerplant versions certification. This is about three-quarters of the certification effort of a new design.

At the February 2010 Singapore Air Show, Airbus said its decision to launch was scheduled for the July 2010 Farnborough Air Show. The choice for new engines included the CFM International LEAP-1A and the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G. Though the new engines will burn 16% less fuel, the actual fuel efficiency gain on an A320 installation is slightly lower since 1–2% is typically lost upon installation on an existing aircraft. Airbus was comfortable with the 20% lower maintenance cost projections for the Pratt & Whitney’s PW1000G compared with today’s engines.

On 1st December 2010, Airbus launched the A320neo “New Engine Option” with an additional range of 500 nm (950 km) or 2 ton (4,400 lb) of extra payload, planning to deliver 4,000 over 15 years. Initially scheduled for spring 2016, introduction was advanced to October 2015. Airbus claimed a 15% fuel saving thanks to the latest-generation engines and large sharklet wingtip devices, keeping over 95% airframe commonality with the current A320.

The A320neo took to the air for the first time on 25th September 2014.

In March 2013, airlines’ choices between the two engines were almost equal. Its commonality helped to reduce delays associated with large changes. A rearranged cabin allows up to 20 more passengers enabling in total over 20% lower fuel consumption per seat. The first Airbus A320neo rolled out of the Toulouse factory on 1st July 2014. It took to the air for the first time on 25th September 2014. The A320neo is much quieter than an A320 at take-off with an 85 decibel noise footprint. The LEAP powered A321neo has 83.3 dB flyover noise, substantially lower than the older CFM56 and V2500 engines.

After 36 months of flight testing, 4,000 hours have been flown; 2,250 with PW GTFs and 1,770 with CFM LEAPs. The flight-test programme will conclude in 2018 with the completion of the A319neo testing. The programme is 75% of what would be done on a new design as the changes impacts flying qualities, performance and system integration, necessitating to retune the fly-by-wire controls and meet type certification requirements which have evolved since 1988. The Neo is a 1.8 t heavier than the Ceo but take-off and landing performance is the same with a modified rotation law, adjusted wing flaps and wing slats angles and rudder deflection increased by 5° to cope with the higher thrust.

First delivery slipped back to early 2016 with Lufthansa taking the first A320neo on 20th January 2016. Two hundred deliveries were targeted for 2017, but as Pratt & Whitney faced ramp-up difficulties only 90 were delivered by October. About 40 aircraft are completed but awaiting engines. Airbus acknowledged that it won’t attain the 200 target, even with many deliveries in the fourth quarter.

EI-SIB, the second Airbus A320neo for SAS Ireland was delivered to the SAS Ireland on 12th December and entered service on 20th December on the Copenhagen – London-Heathrow route.

The Airbus Flight Test crew pictured during testing of the A320neo

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About the Author

Mark is an airline pilot flying the Boeing 737 for a major European airline. In addition he is also a Type Rating Instructor, Type Rating Examiner and Base Training Captain on the B737. Outside of commercial flying Mark enjoys flying light aircraft from the smallest 3 Axis microlights up to heavier singles. He is also an instructor and EASA Examiner on single engines and a UK CAA Examiner. He flies the Chipmunk for the Irish Historic Flight Foundation (IHFF). Mark became the Chairman of the National Microlight Association of Ireland (NMAI) in 2013 and has overseen a massive growth in the organisation. In this role he has worked at local and national levels. In 2015, Mark won ‘Upcoming Aviation Professional Award’ at the Aviation Industry Awards sponsored by the IAA. Mark launched this website back in 2002 while always managing the website, he has also been Editor and Deputy Editor of FlyingInIreland Magazine from 2005 to 2015.

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