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Airbus A320

By Patrick Mondout

While Airbus A310 was a shorter version of the A300b and offered efficiencies over it's older counterpart, there was still a need for a smaller aircraft to compete with the Boeing 737 and McDonnell-Douglas MD-80. Airbus responded to the challenge with the A320.

The A320, however, was much more than a smaller version of previous Airbus designs. The European consortium decided to make use of as much new technology as possible in the aircraft - some pilots would say too much. It was the first commercial airliner to include a complete fly by wire (FBW) system, meaning the aircraft wasn't really flown by the pilots in a traditional sense: Pilots used a sidestick (see picture on the top/right) and other inputs to tell the aircraft what they wanted to do. The aircraft's computers then carried out these instructions by sending signals to the proper parts. It was a very controversial new feature at first.

Airbus A-320

C-FFWN, an Air Canada A320-211 in their 65th Anniversary livery.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at


British Caledonian Airways place the first order in 1984, thus launching the aircraft. It made it's first flight on February 22, 1984 and the first deliveries were made to Air France in March of 1988.

Was Boeing impressed with the aircraft? Apparently so. It attempted to acquire one to place at Boeing Field in Seattle to motivate its employees in 1994!*


*Source: Hewson, Robert. The Vital Guide to Commercial Aircraft and Airliners, 2nd Edition. Airlife Publishing, 2000.

Airbus A320 at a Glance
Engines2 CFM CFM56-5 turbofans
Cruising Speed570
Passengers180 (150 standard)
Range3220 miles
Span111 ft 3in
Length123ft 3in
Height38ft 9in
Number built does not include A319, A318, or A321


Share Your Memories!

What do you remember about the Airbus A320? Were you a member of the flight crew on one? Have you any interesting stories to share? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"I think Boeing was really impressed with A-320, because this aircraft was much ahead of anything Boeing had produced so far. While the American company didn't develop any new medium-size aircraft since the late 60's (737), just made upgrades on it, Airbus made a completely new, state-of-the-art, hi-tech airliner. To be the first passenger plane with FBW meant not only that it is safer and easier to handle, but that it is more stable and comfortable for the passengers. I flew both the 737-300 and the A-320, and the later really seemed more comfortable. "

--Carlo Moiana



A joystick for in-flight entertainment? Nope - it's the pilot's sidestick!

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at

Model: A320

Manufacturer: Airbus

Country: (European)

First Flight: February 22, 1984

First Passenger Flight: February 22, 1987

Launch CustomerAir France

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