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Has The A320 Changed Atall Since When Launched?  
User currently offlineGilesdavies From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2003, 2985 posts, RR: 2
Posted (7 years 9 months 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 3788 times:

The A320 has been flying about 18yrs now, since the first test flight and recently on Airliners.net there has been a lot of talk about modifications to the A320 to keep it competitive. Like blended wingtips and an updated model - A320E.

That got me thinking... Has there been any changes to the A320 so far to keep it competitive (other than the A320-100), or has the A320-200 remained untouched in this time? I notice obvious things like the same model of aircraft engines are used.

For example is an A320 that rolled off the production line in 1989 to a new one rolling off the production line now a lot different?

I know Adria Airways have been flying their A320's since 1989 (when I flew on one LTN-SPU), I appreciate an aircraft of that age is likely to be more prone to things going wrong and maintenance starts becoming an issue.

Putting maintenance costs aside, would an 18 year old A320 be more expensive to fly (fuel burn/cost per mile), than a new A320 flying now.

Im just curious as Airbus still seems to manage to secure a large number of orders for the A320 at the Farnborough Airshow.

18 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16908 posts, RR: 67
Reply 1, posted (7 years 9 months 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 3770 times:

Goodness yes.

Apart from the -100 to -200 switch you mention, newer software versions, shift to LCD from CRT, etc are numerous.

Quoting Gilesdavies (Thread starter):
. Like blended wingtips and an updated model - A320E.

Two new winglet styles are currently being tested on the 320.


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"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlinePihero From France, joined Jan 2005, 4155 posts, RR: 76
Reply 2, posted (7 years 9 months 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 3638 times:
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It is more an on-going product improvement than getting new versions out.Switching from CRTs to LCD screens doesn't constitute a modernisation, just some progress in maintenance and durability (and bigger screens are nicer,too!).
There have been some tweaks in the hydraulic systems,
newer and more powerful engines,
bigger memory / faster Fms,
some minor tweaks in the FMGS, like the reversion to hdg/VS mode on go-arounds from NPAs.,
All the above is certainly not enough to require an NG suffix to the numbering.

Quoting Gilesdavies (Thread starter):
Putting maintenance costs aside, would an 18 year old A320 be more expensive to fly (fuel burn/cost per mile), than a new A320 flying now.

Yes, the original performance is somehoiw degraded because of the bumps, shocks, patches and a general weight increase. Happens to all aircraft.



Contrail designer
User currently offlineTangowhisky From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 903 posts, RR: 7
Reply 3, posted (7 years 9 months 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 3570 times:

The A320 was in my opinion one of the most aggressive commercial airplane in terms of engineering and technology ever built. Airbus also got the specs right in terms of seating, size, range, performance, etc. It was also a plane with a vision with the introduction of cockpit commonality, to sell many many widebodies and become number one. My hat off to Airbus for that, and this is why the plane did not need major changes over the past 15 yrs, just keeping it fresh has been adequate. I hope Airbus has had a good lessons leraned about why the A320 has been so successful, why it is still such a great cash machine, and never to repeat the mistake about not pushing the envelope again (a la A340 quads, A350 Mark I, II, III, ....). As I mentioned previously on other threads, Airbus could have pushed the envelope with the A380 with more composites, more electrics, and other technologies to truly make this plane another technological success story. But the technology implementation has been shy of the Airbus of the 80's - and that is why Boeing sees an opportunity to challenge it with its 747-8i.


Only the paranoid survive
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31573 posts, RR: 57
Reply 4, posted (7 years 9 months 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 3360 times:

Any External Differences from the A320-200s in Line ops from Beginning till date.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineAviator27 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (7 years 9 months 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 3237 times:

A320-100's did not have winglets. This is the only external change that I know of. I believe there are a few from Air France that are still flying.

The A320 is really under constant improvement. Changes have been made to the Ram Air Turbine which provides backup hydraulic and electrical power in case all else fails. There is a recent shift from CRT to LCD screens. Changes to the Air Conditioning PACKS (Pneumatic Air Conditioning System) with the newer ones being quieter. The PACKS also have a blended exhaust vent on the belly instead of a drop down exhaust door/vent. There is the shift from steel brakes to carbon brakes. There are also numerous upgrades to the avionics software.

There is no one huge upgrade that would mark the shift from A320 to "A320NG". Improvements have been gradual and less noticed. However, look for a noticeable shift when the A320E debuts.


User currently offlinePavlin From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (7 years 9 months 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3152 times:

The A320 got brother and sister like A319, A321, and the smaller A318.

User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16908 posts, RR: 67
Reply 7, posted (7 years 9 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 3094 times:

Quoting Pavlin (Reply 6):
The A320 got brother and sister like A319, A321, and the smaller A318.

Indeed. And many of the changes were introduced with the siblings.

If you want to look at the entire family for external changes you have the double slotted flaps on the 321 and the larger tail on the 318, as well as the variations in rear cargo hatch on the 319 and 318 due to proximity to the wing/fuse fairing.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineRichardPrice From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (7 years 9 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 3030 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 7):
the larger tail on the 318

Thats more an effect of shortening the fuselage, it happens on all aircraft families with stretchs/shrinks.


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16908 posts, RR: 67
Reply 9, posted (7 years 9 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 3030 times:

Quoting RichardPrice (Reply 8):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 7):
the larger tail on the 318

Thats more an effect of shortening the fuselage, it happens on all aircraft families with stretchs/shrinks.

Indeed. It's not so much an improvement as a necessity. But there was a question about external differences and I widened the scope  Wink



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31573 posts, RR: 57
Reply 10, posted (7 years 9 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 2985 times:

So Externally on an A320-200 there are no Visable Signs to Tell them apart yet.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16908 posts, RR: 67
Reply 11, posted (7 years 9 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 2981 times:

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 10):
So Externally on an A320-200 there are no Visable Signs to Tell them apart yet.

You can tell it apart from a -100 by the winglets. But you can't tell a modern -200 from a ten year old one.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31573 posts, RR: 57
Reply 12, posted (7 years 9 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 2981 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 11):
But you can't tell a modern -200 from a ten year old one.

Amazing.
No change to the Outflow valve,Landing Lights,Antennas etc.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlinePihero From France, joined Jan 2005, 4155 posts, RR: 76
Reply 13, posted (7 years 9 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 2879 times:
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Quoting Tangowhisky (Reply 3):
Airbus could have pushed the envelope with the A380 with more composites, more electrics, and other technologies to truly make this plane another technological success story. But the technology implementation has been shy of the Airbus of the 80's - and that is why Boeing sees an opportunity to challenge it with its 747-8i.

Interesting comment.
My opinion is that the 380 -with the -900 series- represents the absolute limit of aircraft size with the technology now available. Anything more and we'd go to unknown territory with airframe flexibility, resonnance...etc...
As for electrics -more of - it comes to the point where power requirements and costs would cease to balance the weight /engine performance....that bleedless architecture would bring.
As for flight controls and FMGS architecture...a matter of spin and preferences.

Going back to the thread, for us pilots, the modern 320s are nicer to operate, because of the more powerful engines (which also start a lot quicker...), a quieter environment, some new data on the screens like the fuel computations... and that's just about it, all the on-going improvements find their way very quickly into the fleet, except the new LCD screens.
Externally,I'd challenge anyone to tell the difference between the oldest 320 and the latest entry.
The odd job is the old 320-100 which tends to be more difficult to grease on the runway, probably because of the missing fences.



Contrail designer
User currently offlineBoeing Nut From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (7 years 9 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 2833 times:

Quoting Tangowhisky (Reply 3):
The A320 was in my opinion one of the most aggressive commercial airplane in terms of engineering and technology ever built.

Still is.

There have been constant small improvements. But no major changes like from the 737 classic to the 737NG.


User currently offlineGigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16345 posts, RR: 86
Reply 15, posted (7 years 9 months 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2805 times:

There have been quite a few production changes as well... the elimination of tens of thousands of rivets and the use of friction stir welding come to mind.

The systems have been completely replaced - the FBW system in newer planes is several generations newer and there are additional FBW controls that weren't there previously.

N


User currently offlineLaxintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 24325 posts, RR: 47
Reply 16, posted (7 years 9 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 2787 times:

Cargo door locking system has changed also.

From a longish handle seen sticking out in this photo


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to a much smaller latch port that is flush with the door.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31573 posts, RR: 57
Reply 17, posted (7 years 9 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 2786 times:

Quoting Laxintl (Reply 16):
Cargo door locking system has changed also.

Yes.Thats one Noticeable External Difference.
How about the Refuelling panel any changes there.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineScarebus03 From Ireland, joined Apr 2005, 303 posts, RR: 2
Reply 18, posted (7 years 9 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 2705 times:
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Refuelling panel has changed to opening forward into the airflow and not down as before. Also the bubble and glass for checking the level of the aircraft is not fitted to the new models, it was located as part of the fuel panel. The air conditioning system, alternate braking system and CIDS has also been changed to combine more functions into less units. The electrical system has also been revamped. And of course the nav and autopilot systems have evolved with changes in aircraft navigation over the last 20 years
The old AF -100s have the old blue water toilet systems, no wingtip fences and no centre tank. The telltale differences between the early -200s and the modern ones are the sizes of some of the access panels as they are much bigger. The landing gear is also different. For ease of identification between the old and the new it is most obvious when looking at the engines as on the CFMs the cooling ducts eg. ECU cooling inlet duct is much bigger and the oil tank access door is different and doesn't open forward.
The A321 has an excellent fuel system using jet pumps working across a pressure differential, it is the only member of the A320 family to have this system

It was the most advanced commercial airliner to enter service in 1989 in it's class and still is today, a truly phenomenal machine

Brgds

SB03



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