Friday, July 24, 2015

The Airbus A-320 Prodigy

"When you compete with people with reputation and workmanship of Boeing or Douglas, you can't sell aircraft by just doing like them. You have to do better, much better." said Roger Beteille, Deputy General manager of Airbus in 1980's.

And that is what exactly they did. If they had to compete to already successful Douglas MD-80 and Boeing 737, new aircraft had to be designed & manufactured to provide new and original possibilities a.k.a revolutionary possibilities.

A320 family of aircraft is one of the unique stories of aircraft manufactures philosophy of how an aircraft should be. It was the classic example of showing the customers their needs; instead of asking them. The truth is, airline companies don't know what kind of aircraft they want. They had lot of problems which they thought couldn't be solved by just one aircraft. 

Airbus took this behemoth challenge. They were gonna break into a market ruled by competitors and high economic value. If they are to succeed, they had to re-invent traditional concept of commercial aviation.

The A320 aircraft designers started by taking economic concerns of the airline.

It will have a wider and longer cabin that its competitor, meaning more room and comfort for passengers; more space and ergonomics for freight.

The aircraft was developed with two sets of engine which allowed airlines to choose the best for them.

And then there was fly-by-wire. The electric way of flying until then was used in military aircraft. Jean Pierson, the former CEO of Airbus pushed this idea of fly-by-wire to the European authorities until they agreed.

Fly-by-wire turned out to be one of the keystone of the new modern commercial air space. This made the aircraft more safer and easier to control. It also made the way for two an flight deck. 

They also added Composite material for the structure, a fully digital cockpit flight controls making them pioneers of those technology and allowed Airbus to be in the pinnacle of technology.

Before its maiden flight in 1987, A320 received more than 400 orders from 15 airliners around the world. Never before in the history of aviation was there an aircraft received with such enthusiasm. The orders kept on growing during the certification period which ended in February 1988. Just like line of customers in front of apple stores.

In the years to come, airline companies realised with the A320, Airbus was inventing a concept that was perfectly adapted to their needs. 

Then Airbus started its A320 family program. Making the aircraft short and long, the A320 family had tailored solution to airliners problems. Using the same engines, it allowed the airlines to operate in a fluctuating and ever changing aviation market. With the A318, A319 & A321 the Airbus had in fact invented the ultimate elastic aircraft.

What Airbus did with A320 was a calculated risk of changing a traditional aircraft way to fly to a new concept. It was calculated risk but a risk indeed. With the commonality between aircraft, the pilots and spare parts could be swapped for larger operation time and thus making more money for the airliners. 

We owe a lot to Airbus for making this happen. Aviation industry owe a lot to this aircraft. A320 sowed the seeds of innovation which we now take for granted. From 1990 until now- Airbus never stopped innovating with A320. 

The famous sharklets, new engines - all are synced for a brighter future and positive impact. 

By all means Airbus A320 can be called as a legend. An outstanding example of aviation qualities. A Prodigy.


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