Airbus says it has increased the range of the A220 by up to 450 nautical miles, allowing it to connect Western Europe to the Middle East and Australia to Southeast Asia.
The extended range comes as the company recently hinted it was also looking at trans-Atlantic routes for its recent single-aisle acquisition.
But yesterday it pointed to new routes between Western Europe to the Middle East and Australia to Southeast Asia — rather than the competitive trans-Atlantic — as the likely contenders.
“Airlines will find capacity where they find capacity,” Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer said on the sidelines of the Airbus Innovation Days.
“Does that mean that you have a huge shift and all of a sudden you have a huge shift and you’re going to see 140-, 150-seat airplanes doing the trans-Atlantic? I don’t think so.
“Maybe short term and maybe some will stick, demonstrating the capability of this airplane because it has that range.
“But fundamentally I think you’re going to see more larger aircraft, 320s and 321s doing that.”
The aerospace giant said it had increased the maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of the A220 by 2,268 kg. This would increase the maximum range of A220-300 to 3,350nm and the A220-100 to 3,400nm.
The performance increase had been achieved by using existing margins in the plane’s structure and systems as well as its current fuel volume capacity.
“The new MTOW will allow operators to reach markets which today cannot be served by other small single-aisle aircraft types,” Scherer said.
The A220 entered service three years ago as the Bombardier C-Series and the program was acquired by Airbus in mid-2018 when it took a controlling stake Bombardier’s C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP).
Head of A220 engineering and customer support Rob Dewar said the jet had already beaten its initial performance targets, bring more flexibility and revenue potential to customers.
“Today Airbus is reinforcing its confidence in the A220 platform and further enhancing its capabilities to meet upcoming market requirements,’’ he said.
The A220 has an order book of more than 530 aircraft and the single-aisle jet, which offers five-across seating and has been well received by passengers, is designed to compete in the 100- to 150-seat market against rivals such as Embraer.
A Delta A220 was this week the 12,000th aircraft delivered by Airbus and executives described the deal to take on the program as an example of business innovation.
Boeing has since done an even more ambitious deal to take an 80 percent ownership stake in Brazil’s Embraer valued at $US4.2 billion.
Steve Creedy traveled to Toulouse courtesy of Airbus.