On Friday February 12th, 2016 Lufthansa officially celebrated the delivery of the world’s first A320neo.
Some 700 invited guests were in attendance at the Airbus Finkenwerder factory near Hamburg, Germany (XFW). The XFW and TLS factory are the only location producing the A320neo (neo = New Engine Option).
Flight-Report.com was present in Hamburg for the press conference and delivery ceremony. Following these, we had the exciting opportunity to catch a ride on the ferry flight of the brand new A320neo from XFW to Lufthansa’s main hub at Frankfurt airport.
1. Finkenwerder (XFW) – Francfort (FRA) – Airbus A320neo – Business Class
The day began at the delivery center, where Lufthansa’s first two A320neo aircraft were on display.
Breakfast was offered in the room where the press conference was held
From left to right: Fabrice Brégier, CEO of Airbus, Carsten Spohr CEO of Lufthansa Group, and Robert Leduc, president of Pratt & Whitney.
Lufthansa’s first two Airbus A320neo
The aircraft on the left if registered D-AINA. The aircraft on the right will be D-AINB, but was still wearing its temporary registration of D-AXAX.
In all, Lufthansa Group has ordered 116 A320neo and A321neo, of which 60 will be equipped with Pratt & Whitney engines.
The first two A320neo aircraft proudly announce their newness to differentiate them from the large fleet of A320ceo (ceo = current engine option): "First to fly A320neo, Less noise, Less fuel, less CO2".
Yep, this is indeed an Airbus A320neo
As the name A320neo (new engine option) would suggest, the major development in this new model is with the engines. Airlines can choose between two engine types: The LEAP-1A from CFM International or the PW1100G-HM from Pratt & Whitney
The A320neo promises a 15% reduction in fuel consumption.
During the delivery ceremony, Airbus highlighted the huge success of the A320neo program, which already has over 4,500 orders from 75 different airlines.
All current A320 family models will be offered in neo version, with the exception of the A318.
At the end of the ceremony there is the traditional exchange of gifts.
Group photo with the crew that will be working the flight to Frankfurt.
Before flying to Frankfurt on the brand new A320neo, let’s take a look around the assembly line.
Final assembly for A320 family, both ceo and neo.
Parts of the A380 are also built here before being shipped to the Toulouse plant in Southwest France for final assembly.
After final assembly in Toulouse, the completed A380s come back to Hamburg for cabin interior fitting.
Our flight to Frankfurt is getting ready for departure with the catering being loaded.
As with any flight, there is a security check prior to boarding.
With fan blades boasting a 2.06 meter diameter, neos are distinguished from ceos.
Welcome aboard this A320neo flight!
The cabin looks like a typical Lufthansa narrowbody cabin, at first glance.
The cabin is outfitter with the same Recaro slimline seats used on the majority of the narrowbody fleets within the Lufthansa Group.
View to the right
And to the left
With the A320neo, Airbus offers airlines a new option called “Space Flex” which carves out more space in the cabin for seats by reducing the size of galleys and closets
The rear lavatories have also been arranged to save space.
Unsurprisingly, the space savings have not translated to more space for passengers, as Lufthansa elected to add extra rows to the A320neo cabin. Seat pitch has been reduced to just 29” in Economy with 31” in the first few rows of the aircraft, most often used for Business class.
With the fuel savings from the new efficient engines and additional seats, the operating cost per seat has been reduced by about 20%.
Unlike the majority of airlines, Lufthansa has elected to keep the “no smoking” sign.
On this special flight, invited guests are seated in the first rows of the aircraft with the middle seats blocked.
This month’s issue of the Lufthansa in-flight magazine showcases the A320neo PW1100G-JM engine.
The Captain stands out in front of the passengers and announces that we’ll be doing the traditional “wing wave” on takeoff to say goodbye to the birthplace of this new aircraft.
The engine start up on the A320neo is very quiet.
The Delivery Center
After pushback, following technical issues with the A320neo engines, the aircraft must stay still a few minutes with the engines on low power before starting to taxi. Pratt & Whitney has announced that this issue should be fixed by April. It was because of these issues that Qatar Airways, originally slated to take the first A320neo delivery, decided to wait prior to delivery—Lufthansa then stepped up as the launch customer.
The A320neo and A321neo have now both flown; but the smaller A319neo has yet to take its first flight as it awaits engines.
During taxi we can see some A321ceo awaiting delivery, including Delta Air Lines’ first A321 due to be delivered in March.
And here we go!
All A320neo family aircraft are outfitted with Sharklets.
The engine noise level inside the cabin is noticeably quieter in the A320neo. It is even more noticeable outside the aircraft where engine noise has been reduced by more than 50% compared to the A320ceo. This has made the A320neo the only aircraft able to operate at London Heathrow without restrictions.
The in-flight service begins with the typical and odd Lufthansa service protocol of serving food prior to drinks.
… after a while, came the drinks.
On this special flight, a short-haul Business class-like meal was served.
The food was nice and fresh
Flight attendants clearing the cabin after the meal
Starting out approach into Frankfurt
To our right, a new A320ceo due to be based in Munich. This aircraft was also at XFW.
Landing on Runway 07L.
Lufthansa’s first A320neo is greeted by a water arch on arrival
One last look at this rather dense cabin of 180 seats.
The first of many A320neos to come.
Here is a video of the flight. You can judge the cabin noise level for yourself:
PRACTICAL INFORMATION Lufthansa is the first airline to operate the Airbus A320neo. The Lufthansa Group has 116 orders for the A320neo family. 61 A320nwo and 40 A321neo will go to Lufthansa, while 10 A320neo and 5 A321neo will go to Swiss International Airlines. Lufthansa should receive 5 A320neos in 2016. Currently, this first A320neo is flying exclusively on the Frankfurt (FRA) to Hamburg (HAM) route. Service from FRA to Munich (MUC) is slated to begin at a later date. Catalogue price for a new A320nwo : $107.3 Million (USD).
Flavien travelled as a guest of Airbus & Lufthansa, this report is our own opinion though.
This A320neo is the first of a long line of new generation aircraft to enter commercial service with an airline. The aircraft will experience some growing pains with the known Pratt & Whitney engine issues, but these issues should soon be fixed.
Indian low-cost carrier Indigo will be the next airlines to take delivery of the A320neo. Indigo has ordered an impressive 430 next generation Airbus narrowbody aircraft.
For the time being, no firm date has been set for delivery of Qatar Aiways’ first A320neo. The airline was the original launch customer for the A320neo.
Based on current orders, the A320neo family enjoys a 60% narrowbody market share against its competitor the Boeing 737MAX.
The pluses :
- Engine noise reduction - More efficient engines with 15% lower fuel burn* - 15% lower CO2 emissions* - 5% lower maintenance costs* * compared to the previous generation of A320 family aircraft
The minuses :
- Decreased Seat pitch compared to the current Lufthansa A320 fleet with the addition of 2 extra rows of seats. - A rather hard seat with limited recline and no headrests.
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