Could Airbus Build An Ultra Long Stretch Of The A220?

The potential for a stretched version of the popular A220 has been regularly discussed on Simple Flying. The A220-500 is seen as a natural development of the type, and it seems it is a case of when rather than if the variant will be announced. But what about a further stretch? An A220-900? How far could Airbus go?

A220-300 AirBaltic
Could Airbus be considering more than one A220 stretch? Photo: Airbus

How much can you stretch an A220?

We’ve talked extensively about how successful an Airbus A220 stretch could be, with airlines such as Air France and airBaltic already throwing their hats in the ring for a larger variant. Indeed, when Bombardier first designed the A220, then the CSeries, it fully intended to stretch the airframe to make a larger variant.

Plenty of rumors have flown about regarding Airbus’ plans for future A220 models. It seems that the current consensus is it’s only a matter of time before the European planemaker releases an A220-500, but what about something even bigger?

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Air canada A220-300
The popular A220-300 could soon have a bigger brother. Photo: Airbus

This week, Flieger Faust revealed that Airbus could be looking into multiple variants of the A220, including a -700, -900 and even an A220-1000 ultra-long stretch! Here’s what was reported.

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Airbus has asked Bombardier to simulate a stretch

Bombardier uses something called the High Performance Computer (HPC) to test and simulate different aircraft designs. A cluster of computers is used to model, in the finest detail, all phases of flight for an aircraft that only exists on the drawing board.

When Bombardier developed the CSeries, it used the HPC to model the base version, the A220-300, as well as the shortened version, the A220-100. Indeed, Flieger Faust reports that Airbus recently asked Bombardier to fire up the HPC in order to flight test a stretch of the A220, the A220-500, signaling that development of this initial stretch is absolutely on the cards.

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Air France, Airbus, A220-500
Air France told Simple Flying it would examine the Airbus A220-500. Photo: Airbus

Bombardier themselves had already simulated the A220-500, but as the CS500. As Sylvain Faust states, “The CS500 has been “flying” in the HPC years ago already, all tested.” The fact that Airbus has requested further simulations is telling, and suggests we could see an announcement of the A220-500 in the coming months.

And then Airbus asked for more stretches!

Flieger Faust states that an engineer close to the program told them Airbus had also requested something that Bombardier had never done itself. To use the HPC to test much longer stretches of the A220. In fact, Airbus reportedly requested testing of variants they dubbed the A220-700, the A220-900 and the A220-1000!

Can you imagine an aircraft with all the power and efficiency of the A220, but seating as many passengers as an A320? It would be ideal for long and thin routes, connecting underserved or unserved city pairs that don’t warrant a true long-range plane. It would be very interesting to see if any modifications would be needed to the wings or powerplants to support such a long fuselage.

Airbus A320 and A220
An A220-500 could already take a bite out of the A320neo family. Photo: Airbus

However, it seems unlikely that Airbus would want to release an A220 ultra-stretch any time soon. Already, the A220-300 has put a damper on the A319neo, with the type only receiving 37 orders to date, compared to over 3,000 for both its bigger brothers. The A220-500 is likely to take a further bite out of this potential market too.

The only advantage of the A319neo is the commonality it shares with the rest of the A320 family, making it a better choice than the A220 for airlines which already have a lot of A320s in their fleets.

There would be one advantage to an A200 ultra-stretch, however. Airlines who have a predominantly A220 based fleet, such as airBaltic, could similarly take advantage of the commonality of parts and pilot skills to add larger aircraft to their fleets. However, this is a fairly narrow market right now, so we’d be highly surprised to hear of anything bigger than a -500 stretch for a few years at least.

The good news is that Airbus appears to be seriously contemplating the A220-500. There is clearly a market for the type, and the planemaker is showing increasing signs of interest. Perhaps we’ll see an announcement at Farnborough?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

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martyn

I would of thought it was better concentrating on boosting production of the A220 & A320 than bringing out new models to compete with themselves.

David C.

The A220 is significantly more efficient than the current A320neo models. It is also more expensive. This may be a move to market to steal more market share from Boeing. The commonality issue slows threat of moving from the A320 to the A220. And the A320 lines have a 5 year backlog. However, the A220 lines are only 12-18 months behind demand before options and Airbus is already looking at 2 new Final Assembly lines in North America. They could ramp up with more A220 lines and even if Boeing brought a clean sheet replacement to the 737, it would… Read more »

HereWeGo

I wouldn’t say the only advantage of the A319 is commonality, due to it’s stronger engines it’s way better than the A220 when it comes to hot&high conditions and stuff like that. Quite a high percentage of A319neo orders are private and government jets, i guess that’s not just a coincidence or because it looks nicer (which it doesn’t)…

TheDude

Not with those current engines.

Jack Abbott

Current PW1500G engines are adequate for powering a theoretical A220-500 aircraft the same size and weight as the A320. “Adequate” may be good enough for Airbus, but Bombardier made no compromises with the CSeries and is still there (!) to design and build the new plane: I would like my aircraft to collect fares on a hot day that grounds everyone else. It should be able to jump on takeoff from a short runway at a high airport and climb like a homesick angel. It should be reliable on day one. The A220-500 should have very generous takeoff thrust and… Read more »

Frank

The A220-500 (and 700, 900) will become a thing when 2 circumstances arrive: 1) The A320 order book starts to get filled with deliveries. 2) Airbus has exercised it’s option to purchase outright the A220 program and own it 100% When it does (because who wants to split a pie, if you don’t have to), that natural course of action will be that the A220 series will run all the way up to the A321Neo line. Airbus will have a clean sheet design from the 100 seat segment, up to about the 180-200 mark. The A321Neo will then occupy the… Read more »

Trent

Southwest is listening.

David C,

Southwest may be one of the airlines pushing for it…

David C.

With the ongoing pain that the 737MAX is experiencing, Southwest may be more than listening, they may be influencing..

stogieguy7

There’s a limit to how far you can stretch a design (sadly, Boeing has hit that limit). But it’s not just aerodynamics; it’s the marketplace that dictates this. The A220 is an awesome aircraft to fill the smaller narrowbody jet market. However, there comes a point where it cannibalizes the A320 series – which is where you start to see rapidly diminishing returns. And the fact is, a 180 seat 320-series aircraft is going to perform better than a 180 seat, super stretched A220. That load size is at the core of what the A320 is designed to do. The… Read more »

Jack Abbott

Cannibalization of the A320neo may happen as airlines start to demand aircraft from Airbus that will compete against their rivals in terms of operational cost. Airlines will press Airbus to proceed given the HPC modeling of the A220-500: lighter airframe and empty weight, less wetted area for drag, composite transonic high-lift wing, cruise fuel consumption and the evolving GTF engine technology. The A220 wing is designed for weights and flight loads of larger variants well beyond 160 000 Ibs, and the A220-300 with a 41,250 Ib payload can still jump off the runway in less distance than the A320neo. However,… Read more »

Oisín Butler

The a220-500/700/900would be a320/a321 replacements

Doz

Big problem is 5 abreast seating. No A320 replacement then.

David C.

The A220 is significantly more efficient than the current A320neo models. (It is also more expensive.) This has all the hallmarks of a move to market to steal more market share from Boeing. The commonality issue slows concern about airlines moving from the A320 to the A220. And the A320 lines have a 5 year backlog. However, the A220 lines are only 12-18 months behind demand before options and Airbus is already looking at 2 new Final Assembly lines in North America. (Airbus has a massive option for real estate at Mirabel AND they are in talks in Mobile for… Read more »

Frank

“220 is significantly more efficient than the current A320neo models. (It is also more expensive.)”

Huh?

-100: US$ 81 m (ave. list price 2018)
-300: US$ 91.5 m (ave. list price 2018)[6]

A319neo: US$101.5 million (2018)[5]
A320neo: US$110.6 million (2018)[5]

David C.

sorry, per revenue seat more expensive… typed too fast.

Frank

I would love to see your sources on that claim, please.

Frank

How does that jive with this statement you made:

The A220 is significantly more efficient than the current A320neo models

Michael Alexander

I wonder if a factor in the equation might be how the flying public react to the 737 MAX when it returns to service. Many carriers have ordered the MAX or already have them and undoubtedly it will be a key player in the future. However, as more details emerge and if, heaven forbid, there was another serious accident with the type shortly after it’s reintroduction, airlines may scramble for an alternative. Some routes would be ideal for a stretched A220.

Transworld

Airbus is using it to contrast how the A320 and A321 sits in comparisons. After the 500 the A220 needs a new wing and then you are well into A320 area (the 500 acualy get you there). Somewhere in all this Airbus has to replace the A320 and then the A321, The A220-500 can replace the A320 but not the A321. But with the model BBD has, you can design a new wing, confirm its accurate and test on out to the A321 area and then compare it to new designs and what you do or do not get. You… Read more »

Gerry S

Agree 100% with stogieguy7. He spoke for me.

Ivan

This would kill A320neo. BUT it would also make MAX obsolete.

David C.

The A320neo is significantly less expensive and retains commonality with the 320 line. with a 5 year backlog, its not going anywhere in the short term. the A220 does not have commonality, and would require extensive retraining for mainline 319, 320 and 321 pilots. Airbus has allowed conversions of commitments on air frames that are common to final assembly lines. IE: A320 converted to A321xlr. But I doubt they would allow conversions to the A220. Also, the A320 line can carry ULD’s, And having a container capable cargo space is very attractive to airlines looking for multiple revenue streams. The… Read more »

David C.

Weren’t we all talking about this in December??

https://simpleflying.com/airbus-a220-stretch/

mileduets

Well, the topic of this article is stretches beyond the -500. It’s just some comments that are looking sort of repetitious

Jack Abbott

Airbus already mentioned publicly that the CSeries is “more than a match” for the A320neo. Likely the 150-180 passenger A320 variant (and the 737MAX-8) will meet its end in the future with the introduction of a A220-500. The A320-family will live on, making way for accelerated production of the A321XLR that will flood the middle-market.