Multiple Airlines Now Blocking Last Rows On Airbus A320neos

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.

British Airways, Airbus A320neo, Center Of Gravity
British Airways is reported to be blocking the rear rows of its Airbus A320neo aircraft. Photo: British Airways

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.

British Airways, Airbus A320neo, Center Of Gravity
The distribution of cargo can affect an aircraft’s center of gravity. Photo: Jamesshliu via Wikimedia

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.”

Video of the day:

British Airways, Airbus A320neo, Center Of Gravity
Earlier this week we reported that Lufthansa had begun blocking the rear row on its A320neos. Photo: Lufthansa

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!

37
Leave a Reply

22 Comment threads
15 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
36 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Pete

Considering the Max debacle, this is a smart move. People before profit. What a novel concept. Are you listening Boeing?

Freed

This issue is less catastrophic than the issue on Boeing’s 737 MAX, but you’re right. Good for Airbus addressing the issue before people get hurt.

rick jones

Per the article, the airworthiness directive driving the airlines to make these changes comes from the EASA rather than Airbus no?

Roman

Or, put another way, had the Boeing crashes not occurred we may not have seen EASA and Airbus address this issue, or so quickly. There is a hypersensitivity prevalent in the industry as a result of the recent MAX crashes. Expect to see more of these types of ADs in the future.

David

Before getting too congratulatory, please realize that this is Airbus responding to an Airworthiness Directive… Something they had to do! Even with this AD, Airbus is not telling all A320 NEO users to block back rows, they are leaving it up to each airline.

Vince

I can see why IAG ditched the A320neo for the B737max. Since the pilots are on strike, I might as well buy a grounded aircraft at dirt cheap prices.
Jokes aside, this directive is most likely affecting premium heavy operators like BA & Lufthansa. Budget carriers like airasia and easyjet are not likely to be affected as they typically do not have the less dense business configuration in front.
This is also likely related to the similar CG issue found on the A321neo reported ealier last month. I suppose we can expect the same patch to come in Q3 2020.

Davkar

All that weight that used to be up front when they had meal service – maybe they can bring it back and sell tickets for the rear seats to pay for it?

Thunderbolt

I have trouble visualizing how an additional six passengers at the tail end weighing approximately 1000 lbs .could destabilize the aircraft? I have encountered this on smaller commuter aircraft where passengers have been asked to move front or rear. What about seating passengers with children in these rear rows?

Steve

I’m certainly not an aircraft designer. But I would guess that adding half a ton (the 1,000 lbs you suggest) at the tail end could certainly affect balance. The farther out from a center of gravity the more a given mass will affect the balance.

John Hodges

Or put all the heavyweights in the front seats!

Stephen Haigh

just put all the fatties in the front. although that will not work in america as everyone is fat

David Kavanagh

It just takes someone with a real and genuine moral courage and who also has the power and influence, to tell the truth.

John Yendt

They could put a kennel back there for all the Emotional Support Animals.

Steve Cramsie

This is the best answer.

Spongebob

Just put the fatty’s up front.

Wogga4eva

And what will happen on crowded flights where that row is alluringly empty? And what will happen when everyone is crowded at the back waiting for the loo as the cabin crew are also back there preparing the trolley for dinner?

Lee

Seriously- I’ve often wondered about this- if it’s this sensitive to 6 pax in the back wouldn’t walking back and getting in line for the lav cause a problem?

I did fly on one of Delta’s new Airbus configurations last summer and they had a mid-cabin lav near the emergency exits.

todd freeman

They block the seats out

Nate Dogg

While in cruise this is not an issue. During landing it affects the Angle of Attack. The fact that the neos have larger engines increases drag and pushes up the nose. Same on the MAX where the MCAS countered pilot inputs. The Airbus equivalent of the MCAS is not correcting the anomaly quickly enough. Airlines with low density 1st class and heavy economy are susceptible to this issue. It won’t matter if heavier passengers are placed up front or not

Uncle Ron

Are aircraft designers pushing the limits more, or is more sophisticated computer testing revealing more ‘possible’ design flaws? Computers allow precise design and control of aircraft while at the same time allowing rigorous testing. The A320neo has been in the air for a long time, and to my knowledge, no accident has been caused by a CG problem. The 737MAX had two tragic “computer” accidents while being flown by less than well trained and well informed pilots. Computers should not be in complete control of airplanes–or cars. We need well trained and well informed pilots in control, and a well… Read more »

BritanniaViking

Anyone remember the first Airbus crash at the show? Computers have caused may fatalities to Airbus passengers. See the video where Captain Scully explains how unsafe Airbus is because they refuse to remove the sidestick control design that has also caused many Airbus passengers fatalities and been hidden from the public. Air France and Air Asia both had one pilot pulling the sidestick and the other pushing the sidestick.

Phiroze K Cama

My friend either read the book or see the movie and interview with “Capt. Scully” – He has in fact commended the positive control of the aircraft with side sticks. OR read the pilot’s manual on any Airbus aircraft, with side sticks, regarding the pilot and first officer going against the side stick control law.

Eddy

Why not just rip the seats out and why is the FAA not mandating this. Seems like regulation is broken.

BobT

So — is there a future solution? Like, permanently flying with a big box of bowling balls stowed at the front of the plane? Or will Airbus have to start paying each airline for 1 row’s worth of ticket prices, on each neo flight, forever?

Phiroze K Cama

Sir, have you heard of “Ballast” being put either in front or rear of an aircraft? To maintain the CG? Guess Airbus will work out the trim and balance sheet for the Neo’s very soon.

Jodh

I was in a vueling flight with a 320neo the other day and the gate received a call not to allow row 32.

Paul

This is a good thing, as there is no window seats back there! Well there isn’t on BA’s Neos

Big Poppy Big Mama

It boggles my mind how a few people each weighing say 175 lbs each can affect the balance on a plane that weighs several tons, with all that cargo loaded underneath. Sounds like this isn one of those overkill regulations.

M&M

I’m surprised the airlines don’t ask for passengers’ weight. CG is vitally important on an airplane.

Chad

This doesn’t make much logical sense as they aren’t reducing the MTOW or overall weight on the aircraft. Why not just move 25-30 large checked bags from the rear cargo area to the front cargo area to compensate? You mean to tell me the airline as no autonomy at their discretion to address the issue and re-balance the COG?

Eduardo

Balancing the COG is the same reason why airlines distribute passangers throughout the plane instead of concentrating them in the front or in the back.

Devin Battley

It just goes to show that when you take the legroom out of the plane and put in too many rows of seats, the airline has to pay the price. I hate the airlines and Airbus, Boeing etc. for there human rights abuses of making flying in economy a most horrible experience.

David

My thirty three years as an aircraft loadmaster tells me to put heavy baggage in the front and keep the rear seats full.

David Anglin

I think if it is that simple to block the rear row of seats then it could be compensated in the cargo bins by reducing approximately 1000 lbs of baggage in the rear of the aircraft and putting it in compartment 1-1 and 1-2. If its that simple.

Derek

BA are lying about last rows with new configuration not being given to passengers. I am an older passenger who flies five times a year LHR NICE/NICE LHR. Two weeks ago was allocated this extra single seat at rear of plane, which I refused to sit in. After protest was moved five rows forward. When going to toilet was shocked to find two cabin staff sitting on jump seats in front of single WC door, having to get up and move each time a passenger entered this area. It is so disgraceful that I remarked that the CEO ALEX CRUZ… Read more »

Chris radosevich

Start charging passengers by the pound over a basic minimum and you will know their weight or close to it and it will enable airlines to balance the loads more accurately. Thin people with minimum luggage will be very happy too! Hope this helps or at least makes you laugh!

Wayne De Leeuw

Today’s AI can process more data than a human can. The capabilities looking at drone technology provide aircraft with unmanned flight capabilities. The computers on commercial aircraft can sample data at tens of thousands times per second and not be overwhelmed. Pilot training today has to include the capabilities of the installed AI. When not done incidents as seen with the MAX will happen. At some point we will have to ask ourselves if we would fly on an aircraft without a pilot?