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

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 A320-200Airbus A320neo
Length37.57 m / 123 ft 3 in37.57 m / 123 ft 3 in
Wingspan34.10 m / 111 ft 10 in35.80 m / 117 ft 5 in
Wingarea122.60 m2 / 1,320 ft2123.00 m2 / 1,324 ft2
Height11.70 m / 38 ft 5 in11.76 m / 38 ft 7 in
Engines22
Thrust per engine120 kN / 27,000 lbf121 kN / 27,120 lbf
Total thrust240 kN / 54,000 lbf242 kN / 54,240 lbf
MTOW77,000 kgs / 170,000 lbs78,000 kgs / 172,000 lbs
Range5,700 km / 3,078 nm6,850 km / 3,699 nm
Cruise speedM0.78M0.82
Capacity150 passengers165 passengers
Max. capacity190 passengers189 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.

  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.

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.

7 comments
  1. So, the neo and the ceo have the same length, but neo fits 10% more passengers. Less leg room, I assume?

  2. The engines make the plane’s fuel burn so attractive and cannot be put on the CEO version. The CEOs are essentially backlog or customers that need lift today. NEOS are sold out for years.

  3. It’s difficult to believe that Airbus will put those earlier triangular wingtips if they just increase drag. Why, did marketing people and not aeronautical engineers thought of putting them there?

    And you call a 7% reduction in fuel burn as a “massive” improvement? If your employer gives you a 7% salary increase, would you call that a “massive” pay hike?

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