The Airbus A320 vs A320neo – What’s The Difference?

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The Airbus A320 is not only the most popular Airbus aircraft ever made. It is rapidly approaching (and may soon take over) the number one most sold aircraft spot in the world, a spot currently held by the Boeing 737.

A320
The Airbus A320 (bottom) vs the Airbus A320neo (top).

But unlike Boeing, who has moved 737 production onto their ill fated 737 MAX series, Airbus actually offers two versions of the A320, the original A320ceo and the newer A320neo. The older ‘ceo’ stands for current engine option, while the ‘neo’ is the new engine option. But is it just a different engine, or did Airbus take the time to redesign the aircraft for the next generation?

Let’s find out!

Airbus A320 vs A320neo

Airbus A320-200 Airbus A320neo
Length 37.57 m / 123 ft 3 in 37.57 m / 123 ft 3 in
Wingspan 34.10 m / 111 ft 10 in 35.80 m / 117 ft 5 in
Wingarea 122.60 m2 / 1,320 ft2 123.00 m2 / 1,324 ft2
Height 11.70 m / 38 ft 5 in 11.76 m / 38 ft 7 in
Engines 2 2
Thrust per engine 120 kN / 27,000 lbf 121 kN / 27,120 lbf
Total thrust 240 kN / 54,000 lbf 242 kN / 54,240 lbf
MTOW 77,000 kgs / 170,000 lbs 78,000 kgs / 172,000 lbs
Range 5,700 km / 3,078 nm 6,850 km / 3,699 nm
Cruise speed M0.78 M0.82
Capacity 150 passengers 165 passengers
Max. capacity 190 passengers 189 passengers

How do they compare?

Looking from the above chart, we can see that the A320neo is actually a bit bigger than the A320ceo. This means it’s able to carry more fuel, fly a longer range, fit more passengers and fly a little faster.

It goes without saying that the major improvement is the different engine. The new engine option is more fuel efficient, quieter and pushes the distance.

A A320neo in IndiGo livery. Photo: BriYYZ/Wikimedia

But these are only surface level improvements. The A320neo has much more going on too.

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  1. Wing tips – Airbus originally had small triangle wingtips on the A320, which functionally worked but actually increased drag. By copying Boeing and including a big curved wingtip called a ‘sharklet’, Airbus was able to massively increase fuel efficiency by up to 7%.
  2. Cabin – The cabin has been improved, with better pressurization, larger luggage space, noise reduction, LED lighting, and a modern seating design for greater passenger comfort.

How much do they cost?

Looking at the prices, we can see that these improvements are relatively cheap.

  • A320ceo – $100 million USD
  • A320neo -$110 million USD

For only $10 million more, Airbus offers an aircraft that is far more fuel efficient and easily outcompetes its predecessor… so why is the A320 still securing orders in 2019?

Lufthansa Airbus A320
Lufthansa has one of the biggest fleets of A320 aircraft. Photo: Lufthansa

Essentially, these improvements of the A320neo (apart from the engines) can easily be retroactively installed on older A320s. Thus a hybrid ‘enhanced’ version of the A320ceo can be created, which has all the fuel improvements of the A320neo, and 100 extra nautical miles on its range to boot.

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Thus airlines have a compelling reason to order the A320, although only 48 orders remain of the aircraft right now. It is likely that Airbus will be encouraging their clients to switch to the neo version (like they did with the A330 program).

What do you think? Are there any mistakes or differences we missed? Let us know in the comments.

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