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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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!