The first Airbus A220 due to be delivered to JetBlue has completed its maiden flight from Mobile, Alabama. The aircraft, named Hops, is expected to be delivered to the US hybrid carrier by the end of the year.
The Airbus A220 has been the hidden hero of 2020. Indeed, when Simple Flying ran the numbers in August, 93.8% of the world’s Airbus A220 aircraft were operational. The majority of A220s not flying belonged to EgyptAir. The A220’s smaller size, tied with its increased fuel efficiency, has made it the perfect aircraft to lead the aviation recovery as passenger numbers remain low.
First JetBlue A220 flight
As Hops is the first Airbus A220 that will be delivered to JetBlue, its first flight yesterday also happens to be the first flight of a JetBlue A220. The aircraft, a -300, departed from Mobile in Alabama at 11:39. With the flight number AIB99, the aircraft departed to the southwest, initially hugging the coast at 15,000 feet before heading down into the Gulf of Mexico.
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Over the Gulf of Mexico, the aircraft flew several turns, gradually climbing to 41,000 feet in three steps. According to data from FlightRadar24.com, the aircraft reached a maximum speed of 528 knots. The aircraft then returned to Mobile, completing a go-around before landing at 17:20. All in all, the flight took five hours and 41 minutes.
The first of 70 aircraft
While one aircraft on its own won’t change an airline, a whole fleet will. That’s what JetBlue is hoping for with its A220-300 fleet, designed to replace its existing fleet of 60 Embraer E190 aircraft. The airline currently has orders for 70 of the larger of the two A220 variants.
According to Seth Miller at Paxex.aero, the aircraft will have 140 seats in the A220’s standard 2-3 configuration. The airline has said that the seats will have the most legroom in economy based on average fleet-wide seat pitch. In addition, the A220s will offer free ‘Fly-Fi’ WiFi, offering live television on most routes.
The airline will launch new routes with the arrival of the A220, which it says would have been unprofitable with its current fleet. This is due to the aircraft’s favorable economics, which many airline CEOs have made a note of. Several US airlines are looking toward the A220 for future fleet requirements. Delta Air Lines is already operating both the -100 and -300. Meanwhile, David Neeleman’s start-up, Breeze, also has an order for 60 A220-300s.
In an exclusive interview with Simple Flying last month, airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss told us his favorite thing about the A220 was its economics and environmental friendliness. Gauss commented,
“As the CEO of an airline, of course, I’m very happy that I have this aircraft as the only [type] now, and that we’ll have many more of them in the future.”
Are you excited to fly on a JetBlue Airbus A220? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!