Airbus is planning to offer an additional range increase on its largest A220, the A220-300. The increase will be offered from the middle of this year and will add some 200 nautical miles to the range of the narrowbody jet.
The A220-300 is set to go further
Airbus’ popular regional narrowbody, the A220, is set for a range increase thanks to new certification being planned by the manufacturer. Already, Airbus has increased the range of both the A220-300 and the A220-100 by increasing the maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) by some 2.3 tonnes.
Now, it says it can further increase the MTOW of the A220-300 by another one tonne, taking it from the current 69.9 tonnes to 70.9 tonnes. Speaking to FlightGlobal, Airbus vice-president of single-aisle marketing Antonio Da Costa said,
“As we were running through the numbers and looking through the reserve factors on the structure – we actually found that there was additional margin available in the structure of the [-300].”
This, he said, will enable the manufacturer to raise the aircraft’s weight takeoff limitations by the additional margin. The additional weight will allow it to carry more fuel, which will give it a maximum range of 200 NM further than the currently published limits.
Airbus said it is only making the change to the larger A220-300 and not to the smaller sibling. For now, the A220-100 will stick with the 2.3-tonne increase that was identified previously.
Plans to offer increase from mid-2021
Da Costa told FlightGlobal that the increased range A220-300 would be offered to its customers from the middle of this year. Available as a line-fit option, it is nothing more than a paperwork change – no physical alterations are needed. This means Airbus customers can decide fairly late in the delivery process that they’d like the certification applied to their aircraft.
The Airbus vice president further explained that this type of growth is only natural in aircraft, saying,
“All aircraft are designed with growth capabilities. That growth capability comes out as we gain in-service experience. We know more and more about the aircraft and we’re able to go back to original engineering calculations and refine them with that in-service experience.”
This could be a welcome addition for JetBlue, which currently has the largest A220-300 order in with Airbus. So far, only one A220 has been delivered to the carrier, which is expecting a final total of 70 of the type to replace its existing Embraer E190 fleet.
The range increase would take the A220-300 from its currently enhanced range of 3,350 NM to 3,550 NM. It’s a small addition but could open up more routes for some operators. However, for JetBlue, it will be a cost/benefit trade-off, as the A220 already offers some 900 NM additional range over its E190s.
Other significant future operators of the A220-300 include Air France-KLM, David Neeleman’s startup Breeze Airways, and Delta Air Lines. Of these, the most likely to be excited by the proposition of the increased range will undoubtedly be Breeze, as it will offer opportunities to fly internationally and to more point-to-point destinations it identifies.