On 1st., July, the first A320-neo rolled proudly off the production line and into daylight. This unit destined for flight testing resembles almost exactly the current A320 except for two details: its one and a half metre ( five ft. ) ''sharklets'', and its engines, which is what sets this new version of the existing best-selling Airbus apart from the previous in the series.
The A-320-neo is offered with either Pratt & Whitney or CFM engines, with which it should be possible to save 15% more fuel compared to current aircraft in the same category. To do this, the engine diameter has been increased by 45 centimetres ( 18 in. ).
The European aircraft manufacturer, who has invested a little over a billion euros in this new version, or ten times less than that for a new programme, has nevertheless had to make some adjustments in the assembly process.
Klaus Roewe - A320neo Programme Senior Vice-President – Airbus :
''The new engines necessitate some structural modifications, also on the wings because the new propulsion systems are much heavier. The pylon will be all new, and also, for sure, the nacelles will be all new because the diameter of the engine is much larger.''
The first test flight of this remotorised version of the current A-320 is scheduled for September, with the test programme lasting probably a year. Eight prototypes in total will participate. Objective: first delivery to Qatar Airways in October 2015.
To date the A320-neo family totals nearly 2,700 firm orders, thus accounting for 60% of the market.