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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Airbus A320neo to Begin Flight Testing in September

Woodrow Bellamy III 

[Aviation Today July 1, 2014] Airbus is looking to begin a flight-testing campaign with its re-engined A320neo passenger jet in September. The French airframe manufacturer finished assembling the first member of the A320neo family, MSN61, which will be the first aircraft to join its development fleet. 

Airbus rolls out the first A320neo. Photo, courtesy of Airbus.
New engine options for the A320neo include the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM and the CFM International LEAP-1A.  The Pratt & Whitney engines power the first flight test A320neo. 
The A320neo flight-testing program will feature a total of eight aircraft, including two A320neos, an A319neo and an A321neo. There will be one aircraft for each of the new engine choices. 
"We have optimized the flight-test program – building on our family concept – to progress through this process as efficiently as possible," said Sandra Bour-Schaeffer, project flight test engineer for the Airbus neo program. 
The fleet will follow the normal Airbus flight testing routine, beginning with performance and engine tests before moving on to high-altitude and hot and cold weather testing campaigns. Preparation ahead of the official launch of flight testing in September will include a virtual flight testing campaign this summer, with simulator-based evaluations of flying scenarios and aircraft systems. 
The A320neo is the Airbus competitor to Boeing's re-engined 737 MAX, which features the LEAP-1B engine from CFM International.  Boeing has claimed, "airlines operating the 737 MAX will see an 8 percent operating cost per seat advantage of the A320neo." 
So far Airbus is winning the order race between the two re-engined airplanes, garnering nearly 2,700 orders from 50 customers. Boeing has achieved 2,098 orders from 42 customers for the 737 MAX. 

Service entry for the A320 is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2015, while Boeing is targeting 2017 for first deliveries of the upgraded 737 MAX.  

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