Airbus A320 Spotting Guide


Air France Airbus A320-200
Air France Airbus A320

The Airbus A320 is a short-to-medium range, twin-engine, narrow-bodied airliner.

It was launched in March of 1984, first flew in February of 1987, and was first delivered in March of 1988 to launch customer Air France.

The A320 is the world’s first airliner with a digital fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system, in which controls from the pilot are transmitted to moving aircraft parts by electronic signals rather than mechanical means.

The A320 also employs a relatively high percentage of composite materials. Its design also included a full glass cockpit rather than the hybrid versions found in previous airliners. 

The initial model was the A320-1xx, with only 21 produced. It was followed by the A320-2xx, which featured increased maximum takeoff weight, greater range and winglets.

Typical seating in the A320 ranges from 150 to 186 passengers. Its range is 3,300 nm.

A main competitor to the A320 series is the Boeing 737.

A320 Family Specifications

The A320 subsequently evolved into the shorter A318 and A319, and the stretched A321.

More than 7,800 A320 family airliners have been built between 1986 and November of 2017, and the series remains a popular element in the fleets of more than 300 airlines around the world. American Airlines is the largest operator of the series, with nearly 400 aircraft in service. In addition, over 5,400 are on order.

The A320 was the basis for other members of the family:

A320 Model Overall
Length
Typical
Seating
Range
A318 103' 2" 107-132 3,100nm
A319 111' 0" 124-156 3,750nm
A320 123' 3" 150-186 3,300nm
A321 146' 0" 185-236 3,200nm

 

Spotter's guide for the Airbus A320 family of jetliners:
A318, A319, A320 and A321
Spotting guide for the Airbus A320 family of jetliners

Spotting Guide for the Airbus A320

The A320 has two engines under the wings, two dual-wheel main landing gear, two cabin doors along the fuselage, two emergency exits over the wing, and the classic Airbus nose featuring the "notched" window.
The A320 has two engines under the wings, two dual-wheel main landing gear, two cabin doors along the fuselage, two emergency exits over the wing, and the classic Airbus nose featuring the "notched" window.\

Under fuselage view of an Airbus A320
Under fuselage view of an Air France Airbus A320

Airbus A320 and A319 Comparison Guide

Spotting guide for the Airbus A319 and A320:
The A320 has two exit doors over the wing. A319 has one exit door over the wing.
Spotting guide for the Airbus A319 and A320

A Few Notable Differences Between the Airbus A320 Series and the Boeing 737

The typical Airbus A320-series airliner has a "rounded nose", a windshield straight across the bottom, and its rear windshield window "notched" at the top.
The typical Airbus A320-series airliner with a "rounded nose" and windshield straight across the bottom, and rear window "notched"

The Boeing 737 features a "pointed nose" with a "V-shaped' windshield
Boeing 737 "pointed nose" with "V-shaped' windshield


Comparing the Airbus A320 and the Embraer ERJ-175

Shown below is a side-by-side comparison of a Airbus A320 (bottom) and an Embraer E-175 (top). Both aircraft have several similarities in appearance, and there is only a 20 foot difference in overall length.

However, the longer A320 has two emergency exits over each wing while the E-175 has none. Also, the A320 has the classic rounded Airbus nose, and the Embraeer has a more pointed nose.

Chart showing the similar characteristics of the Airbus A320 and the Embraer E-175

 


A320 Family Assembly Plants

Final assembly of the A320 family takes place in Toulouse, France, and Hamburg, Germany, the first two A320 plants operated by Airbus.

A plant in Tianjin, China, has been assembling A320 aircraft for Chinese airlines since 2009.

The Airbus final assembly facility in Mobile, Alabama assembles the A320 as well as the A321 for aircraft destined for the North American market. Initial deliveries from the Mobile plant were A321s, beginning in April of 2016, with the first A320 rolling off the assembly line in August of 2017 for Spirit Airlines.

American Air Lines A321 built in Mobile, Alabama (photo courtesy of Airbus)
American Air Lines A321 built in Mobile, Alabama

 

A320neo Series

In December 2010, Airbus announced a new generation of the A320 family, the A320neo (New Engine Option). Earlier models became known as CEO (Current Engine Option) aircraft.

Varients in the series include the A319neo, A320neo and the A321neo.

The A320neo offers new, more efficient engines, combined with airframe improvements and the addition of winglets, named Sharklets by Airbus. The aircraft will deliver fuel savings of up to 15%.

The baseline A320neo jetliner has a choice of two new-generation engines, the PurePower PW1100G-JM from Pratt and Whitney and the LEAP-1A from CFM International.

A total of 5,254 A320neo family aircraft had been ordered by more than 70 airlines as of November of 2017. The first A320neo was delivered to Lufthansa in January of 2016.

Airbus A320neo of Volaris Airlines
Airbus A320neo of Volaris Airlines

EasyJet A320neo (photo courtesy of Airbus)
EasyJet A320neo

Airbus A320 Photographs

Under fuselage view of a JetStar Airbus A320
JetStar Airbus A320

JetStar Airbus A320
JetStar Airbus A320

Northwest Airlines Airbus A320-212
Northwest Airlines Airbus A320-212

Iberia Express Airbus A320, Registration EC-ILQ
Iberia Express Airbus A320, Registration EC-ILQ

Finnair Airbus A320, Registration OH-LXD
Finnair Airbus A320, Registration OH-LXD


Air Berlin A320, Registration D-ABGR
Air Berlin A320, Registration D-ABGR

US Airways Airbus A320-232
US Airways Airbus A320-232

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