The A320 family now spans the 110- to 190-seat range, but there was time before the creation of the smallest model, the A318, when Airbus came close to creating a standalone 100-seater family in co-operation with China, dubbed the AE31X family. In May 1997 Airbus signed a framework agreement with the then Aviation Industries of China (AVIC) calling for the development of 100- and 125-seat aircraft, to be assembled in China, with entry into service planned for mid-2003. Also party to the agreement were Singapore Technologies (ST Aero) and Alenia’s parent Finmeccanica.
The baseline AE31X model would have been the AE316 seating 95 passengers two-class or 105 passengers one-class. Similarly, the larger AE317 would have carried 115 or 125. Although they resembled the A320 family, the new aircraft would have had a narrower five-abreast fuselage cross-section, but a common pilot rating with the A320. The aircraft’s concept was similar to what Bombardier is proposing with its CSeries family of 110-130 seaters.
During the AE31X pre-development phase, which was due to run for 18 months ahead of the planned launch of full-scale development in 1999, things started to go awry. ST Aero pulled out and ultimately the project was abandoned in September 1998. “The four partners have made an in-depth viability assessment of such a new aircraft and have jointly concluded that no solid common basis was found for further developing this new aircraft,” said Airbus at the time, which by then was already well ahead with plans for its A320-based 100 seater – the A318.
|Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 9):|
I wonder if an A315 would be on the cards next.