Will There Ever Be An Airbus A360?

It’s been almost 13 years since Airbus has launched a new airframe. The latest model to be released was, of course the Airbus A350. Seven years later, in 2013, the A350’s maiden flight took place. On the Boeing side, the aviation industry has been talking about a new airframe to follow the 787 since 2015.

Today we will ask the question “Will there ever be an Airbus A360”? Let’s explore what we know so far.

Hi Fly A380
An Airbus A380 – Photo: Hi Fly

Boeing is rumoured to be creating a new airframe which is being dubbed the NMA, which some anticipate will be called the 797. However, nothing has been officially announced by the company. So with all of that being said, we are left wondering when the next completely new Airbus model will be announced?

Only rumors and speculation

Let’s just start off by clearly stating: There isn’t very much to go on that will help us answer this question. One of the few articles written about A360 rumors is from 2006 by Aviation Pros. In the article, it talks about a “buzz in Paris” during the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual meeting. However, with the article being 13 years old, clearly nothing so far has developed from that “buzz”.

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Interestingly enough, run a Google image search of A360 and you’ll find that a number of airplane enthusiasts have imagined the aircraft as a twin-engine, double-decker aircraft – like a mini A380. Yes – we’re all sitting, waiting and wishing for Airbus to tell us something!

Mind the gap

So if a new model of Airbus is coming at some point what would it look like? Well for starters we should examine the existing gaps in the Airbus lineup and consider what makes the most business sense. Currently the largest A320-family member, the A321, has a maximum seating capacity of 244. Moving up, the smallest passenger variant of the A330, the A330-800, seats a maximum of 406.

A321
The A360 could fill the gap between the A321neo and A330neo Source: Wikimedia Commons

A 2014 article by Global Security also wrote about the prospects of an A360. In it, the writer makes two guesses on size, writing that an A360 would either fit between the A321 and smallest A330 or between the largest A350 and the A380. Based on the lack of success of the A380, we think the former is a more likely option. In recent years we see the trend has been moving towards long and thin routes. An aircraft with a seating capacity somewhere in the range of 250-400 passengers seems to fit. This would also make sense as it would go head-to-head with the upcoming Boeing NMA.

A350
Some speculate that an A360 would be larger than the A350 but smaller than an A380 Source: Wikimedia Commons

Despite no official details being released, we can count on the airframe being largely comprised of composite materials like the A350 and Boeing 787. This is certainly necessary to stay competitively fuel efficient – a definite requirement by airlines to maximize profitability.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we really don’t have much credible information with regards to the likelihood of an Airbus A360. If any information exists it would be a tightly held secret over at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse. Maybe we’ll get an announcement at one of the big airshows in the next few years? Until more rumors surface we can only wait and hope!

For the time being we only have Airbus’ latest ‘neo’ variants to talk about as well as the A220 program – which most know came from Canadian company, Bombardier.

Do you have any thoughts (or some inside-information to leak) on the prospects of an Airbus A370? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Kaden

Just a correction. The smallest a330neo is the -800 not the -900.

Matt

I’m guessing that it will be a 777 competitor. I could see something where the largest model is approximately 747-400 size and would still fit in that size gate. I think the airport modifications required for the A380 really were what hurt it. It’s clear airlines want twin engines, so I can see a twin engine slightly bigger than the 777 as their next aircraft on offer. I don’t know how many airlines still use LD1 containers, but I could see a twin that fits them being appealing to certain parties.

Nicholas Cummins

Great article!! Very detailed

Anish

I doubt anything all new will come out of Toulouse in the near future, unless Boeing is forced to move on the NSA due to the MAX troubles. Both manufacturers have had troubles with all new planes – from cost overruns to problems and lengthy delays in introduction – as seen with the A380, the 787, and the A350. Plus, the NEO, MAX and 777X have established the appetite for engine upgrades using the same frame. As for the NMA, well, that plane has ‘been coming’ for several years now. It might still happen, but I think Boeing will be… Read more »

Azman Shah Kader Ibrahimsah

Why not if it is capable like the 380 but more economical.

Joanna Bailey

Maybe it will happen… time will tell