The planes of the Airbus A320 family have been one of aviation’s biggest success stories for several years. From 2015/2016 onward, they will be joined by a new generation of neo versions. Although based largely on tried and tested structures, their new engines and redesigned wings will yield very significant savings in kerosene consumption.
The planes of the neo series have engines that cut fuel consumption by up to 15 percent. The name neo coined by Airbus for the planes of the next A320 generation isn’t merely a reference to their pioneering technical design features. It also stands for New Engine Option. Because the buyer can choose between two different types. The aircraft ordered by Lufthansa will be powered by Type PW1000G engines.
These mighty power packs are built under the supervision of US corporation Pratt & Whitney, but the Munich jet engine manufacturer MTU Aero Engines is significantly involved in their production. The new engines incorporate a very advantageous novel design feature. Two components that were formerly linked to each other now function independently of each other. The low-pressure compressor now revolves at around three times the speed of the fan located farther forward in the engine. In conventional jet engines these components are attached to one and the same shaft and, consequently, revolve at the same speed – a speed that is not in the optimal range for either component.
Separation of the function of these two components has yielded a very significant increase in the new engine’s efficiency. And this in turn brings not only savings in kerosene consumption but also a reduction in exhaust emissions. The bottom line is that an Airbus A320neo will be able to claim a reduction of some 3,600 tons of carbon dioxide emission in one year of operation, plus a double-digit percentage cut in nitrogen oxides (NOx). The PW1000G engines will also be considerably quieter than conventional jet engines; noise pollution at ground level will be halved.
And that’s not all. The neo family has even more benefits to offer. Like, for example, an increase of up to 950 kilometers in the A320neo’s operating range. Despite all these genuine improvements in performance, the structures of the planes of the neo family are largely identical to those of the existing models. And this is an important advantage for airlines like Lufthansa; it means that newly delivered aircraft can be quickly integrated into existing maintenance schedules, also that pilots will not require costly retraining programs.
Airbus plans to continue production of aircraft powered with the existing engine. These will have the suffix ceo = Current Engine Option. Buyers of the A320ceo can now also opt for delivery with so-called sharklets. These upturned wingtips are similar to the wingtip feathers of some bird species and can enhance an aircraft’s aerodynamics as well as cutting fuel consumption, increasing range and load capacity and reducing noise pollution.
Sharklets will be a standard feature of the neo series. That is another good reason for Lufthansa to opt for the new A320 generation. The result is that the A320 will in future have an even more important role in the Lufthansa fleet. The airline placed its first order for 30 planes of the neo series (25 A320neos and 5 A321neos) back in 2001, and followed this up with a second order for 70 more (35 A320neos and 35 A321neos) in 2013. These new aircraft will not only replace older aircraft of the same type. The Boeing 737s currently operating on Lufthansa’s short- and medium-haul routes are being phased out and will be partially replaced by the A320neo on these routes.