Airbus has struck gold with their A220 series aircraft. As such, many industry experts are wondering if Airbus will use this boost in popularity to expand the A220 family from more than just two variants.
How popular is the A220 series?
Currently, Airbus has over 550 orders for the Bombardier-built aircraft. Only 78 have been delivered, but this quantity of orders essentially guarantees a minimum production run of a decade or more.
Airbus offers the smaller 135 seater A220-100 alongside the larger A220-300, which can seat 160 passengers. They fly to a range of 3,400 nmi (6,300 km) and 3,350 nmi (6,200 km) respectively.
The airlines that have ordered the most A220s are:
- Delta was the North America launch customer of the type. With 95 on order (45 A220-100s and 50 larger A220-300s), they have found them very useful for regional filler routes, and have received high praise from customers flying onboard.
- Start-up airline Moxy has 60 A220-300s on order and plans to deploy them regional airport to regional airport (and thus skipping hubs) across North America.
- airBaltic plans to become a completely all Airbus A220-300 airline, with 50 orders on the way.
- Air Canada has 45 orders of the A220-300.
- Lufthansa was the launch customer of the smaller type in Europe, ordering 30 for Swiss International Air Lines.
- Jetblue has a firm order for 60 A220-300 aircraft.
With so many customers, would it be possible that other versions of the A220 could be built?
What future models could be built?
According to soon-to-be all A220-300 air Baltic CEO Martin Gauss, “We are happy with the current aircraft [A220-300] as it is today, and when something new is in development we will look at it”.
And there are a few rumored variants of the A220 that might be built in the future.
The first is the A220-500. This is a further stretch of the A220-100 frame to accommodate up to 200 passengers. It will likely fly a shorter range than the other two A220s as it will be heavier, carrying more passenger and fuel.
Another version of the A220 that might be built is a sub-100 model. Essentially, there is a gap in the market for tiny aircraft (up to 100 seats) that Airbus could use a shrunken A220 to fill. This aircraft would be classed as an A220-50, much like the A318 is a second shrink of the A319 and A320 (original).
Will it be built?
Thus far, Airbus has made it clear that they don’t intend to build any new variants in the next 12-months as they first need to ensure that the production of the original 500 A220s goes as smoothly as possible.
“In the next 12 months, Airbus will not launch the A220-500. Before embarking on expansion projects of the A220 family, Airbus must first solve its productivity problems.” – 2019 Paris Air Show, Airbus Statement
There is also the elephant in the room regarding the A220 and its bigger brother the A320 series. The A220-300 starts to encroach on the A319, and any bigger variant would place it within shooting distance of the A320 series. Whilst both aircraft have different roles, sales might be cannibalized from each type as airlines are forced to choose (rather than buy both).
What do you think? What other future A220 variants can you imagine? Let us know in the comments.