Multiple airlines are now blocking the rear rows of the Airbus A320neo. This is due to an Airworthiness Directive issued by EASA which has limited the aircraft’s center of gravity envelope.
Last week Simple Flying reported that German flag carrier Lufthansa had stopped selling the last row of seats in its Airbus A320neos due to concerns over the aircraft’s center of gravity limitations. Now, Head for Points has exclusively revealed that British Airways has also begun blocking the rear rows of seats onboard its Airbus A320neo aircraft. EASA notes that the conditions triggering its AD have “never [been] encountered during operations”.
What is the center of gravity and why should I care?
Put into simple terms, the center of gravity is an average of where an aircraft’s weight is located. If more weight is placed at the front of the aircraft, the center of gravity will move forward. Move the weight towards the back of the aircraft, and the center of gravity moves with it.
Depending on where the center of gravity is located, it is possible that the handling of the aircraft can change. As such, aircraft manufacturers produce an “envelope” of the acceptable center of gravity. If the COG exits this envelope, the aircraft may not handle as expected. This is important whether you’re flying a Cessna 172 or an Airbus A380.
The A320neo’s COG
According to EASA’s airworthiness directive 2019-0189, analysis of the behavior and flight control laws of the A320neo discovered “a reduced efficiency of the angle of attack protection when the aeroplane is set in certain flight configurations”. As a result, Airbus has restricted the COG envelope with an Aircraft Flight Manual Temporary Revision.
The revision has led to some A320neo operators needing to block off the rear rows of the aircraft. Lufthansa previously told us “row 32 will therefore no longer be assigned to passengers – not even to staff travelling with ID tickets.”
This is as “there will now be a restriction of the rear centre of gravity limit, by up to four percent depending on the weight of the aircraft.”
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British Airways now affected?
Earlier today, Head for Points reported that British Airways was now blocking the rear rows onboard the Airbus A320neo. Simple Flying contacted British Airways regarding the news, however the airline declined to comment. They instead referred us to Airbus who told us,
“We are working with our operators to identify the best solutions for their daily operations.”
According to Airbus, there are 59 airlines currently operating the Airbus A320neo. As such, it is possible that we could see more airlines blocking the rear of their cabins while the temporary revision issued by Airbus is solved.
Have you been on an Airbus A320neo where the rear row has been blocked? Let us know in the comments!