Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier said: “I congratulate the whole A320neo development team, ground crew and air crew for making this day happen. The A320neo which has taken to the air today builds on the outstanding success of the A320 Family. The aircraft through its incremental innovations combines the most efficient engine and aerodynamic technologies, as well as new cabin features to bring to market a product which will consume 20 percent less fuel per passenger.”
For its first flight, the A320neo, powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM engines, lifted off from Blagnac at around 60 tonnes. During the flight, which took the aircraft around southern France, the crew explored the aircraft’s flight envelope and systems operation, while the progress was monitored by experts on the ground in real-time via a direct telemetry link.
This maiden flight marks the beginning of a rigorous flight test campaign involving eight aircraft encompassing all models and both new engine options – the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM and the CFM International LEAP-1A turbofans. Overall, the NEO development fleet will perform a combined total of around 3,000 hours of flight testing. The A320neo with Pratt & Whitney engines will be the first variant in the Neo Family to receive type certification followed by its entry into airline service in the 4th quarter of 2015 with first operator Qatar Airways.
The A320neo Family, encompassing the A319neo, A320neo and A321neo, seating up to 160, 189 and 240 passengers respectively, is the world's best-selling single-aisle aircraft family and the preferred choice with traditional airlines, as well as with the fast-growing low-cost carrier market for which it is now the reference. To date the A320neo has won over 3,200 orders from 60 customers, representing a 60% market share.