What’s Behind A320-xxx Model Designation?

The Airbus A320 family has undoubtedly a wide range of members, visible at any airport. Some of us can see an Airbus and easily identify it whether it’s an A320, A321 or A318. They have their differences, in the structure, size, and of course, the performance. But what if you see an A320, the variant of the same A320-xxx?. This variant or model goes from 100 to 200 series.

A320-100 Air France (AFR) F-GFKQ – MSN 002P. hoto prise à l’aéroport de Toulouse-Blagnac (LFBO) en France. Picture take at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (LFBO) in France. Source: Laurent ERRERA from L’Union, France.

The A320-100 had only 21 samples manufactured, and they were the first to be manufactured. In this model the main visible characteristic is the wingtip, it has no wingtip fences or winglets. An important info is that every plane designated with 100 series were unregistered and scrapped.

Continuing with the 200 Series, the main difference is the wingtip fences, improving the aerodynamics and performance, and in other hand, the fuel capacity and minor changes were applied. In the year 2012 airbus started a production with sharklets.

Airbus A320-211. Source: T.Laurent/Airliners.net

This series is the biggest production with many samples manufactured and spreaded worldwide. Going further, the 200 series has other variants, and is mainly determined by the engine model. For instance, the model A320-211 is powered with CFM56-5A1 or 5A1/F engines. And if this model is converted to A320-212 will be powered with CFM56-5A3, this model change is linked to the thrust rating “the engine power”, (CFM56-5A1 has 25,000 lbf (111 kN) and CFM56-5A3 has 26,500 lbf (118 kN)). Therefore, if the engine model changes, the aircraft model changes as well, because of little modifications on some systems related to it.

Engine detail of this Airbus A321-211. Nice the passenger in the red outline watching us!. Source: Pieter van Marion from Netherlands/ flickr.com

Taking a look at the A320-214, it is powered with CFM56-5B4/3 but applying the proper modification package, it is then converted into A320-216 model, powered with CFM56-5B6/3. Here again the thrust rating of the engine plays the role. The A320-215 is powered by CFM 56-5B5/P jet engine.

Airbus A320-216. Source: 1zoom.me

Here comes a change of the engine trade manufacturer IAE (International Aero Engines), the V2500 jet engine fitted on the A320-231, A320-232 and A320-233. The IAE V2500-A1 is installed on the A320-231. The IAE V2527-A5 on the A320-232 and the IAE V2527E-A5 installed on A320-233. So, it is noticable that the engine determines the model designation, in such a way, the performance changes, and the weight on the aircraft changes too. These changes are common in the operator’s fleets and particularly if they have a wide fleet of A320s.

Airbus A320-233, you can note the engine V2500, longer than a CFM. Source: Bernal Saborio from Costa Rica/ flickr.com
Airbus A320-232. Source: Aldo Bidini/ jetphotos.com

After the above models, the next in the list are the NEOs (New Engine Option). As many of us know the NEO models are the most modern and updated A320. The noticable differences are the winglets and engines, they are powered by huge ones and are more efficient. The engines are CFM International LEAP-1A or Pratt & Whitney PW1000G. For instance, the type certificate sheet, designated these models as A320-271N, powered by PW1127G-JM Geared Turbo Fan jet engines, or A320-252N powered by LEAP-1A24 jet engines.

Airbus A320-271N (NEO) powered by PW1100G-JM serie engine. Source: worldairlinenews.com/Airbus
PW1100G-JM Serie Engine Fitted on an A320 NEO. Source: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

Thus, these are some models variants of the A320-XXX series determined by the engine and aerodynamic modifications, enhancing or changing in this way the general performance and weight characteristics of the aircraft A320, and such above explanation is for A320. While, A321 or A318 has another detailed explanation, but for now we expect this will help you understand how Airbus gives the model name or designation to its aircraft.

Airbus A320-252N (NEO) powered by CFMI LEAP-1A24. Source: skyteamvirtual.org

More details are given by the TYPE-CERTIFICATE DATA SHEET AIRBUS A318 – A319 – A320 – A321 published by EASA and attached in the references.


REFERENCES:

Click to access TCDS_EASA%20A%20064_%20Airbus_%20A318_A319_A320_A321_Iss_46.pdf

http://www.airfleets.es

Cover photo:

aerolatinnews.com

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