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Airbus Improves A220 Range, But Does It Matter?

The Airbus A220 (formerly known as Bombardier CSeries) has proven to be incredibly popular with airlines and passengers. Airlines have already ordered 530 of these aircraft, and Airbus expects the order book to increase significantly over time.

Why is the A220 so popular with airlines and passengers?

The A220 has a lot to love, whether it's an airline or a passenger.

From the perspective of airlines:

  • The plane fills a void that is not being served in any other way, since the two variants of the A220 have between 100 and 150 seats, more or less; this makes the plane larger than the regional aircraft, but smaller than the A320 and the 737
  • The A220 is incredibly efficient in fuel consumption, at least 20% more fuel efficient than previous aircraft that serve that market
  • The plane has an incredible range, and can fly more than 3,000 miles without stopping, which makes it versatile

airBaltic A220-300

From the perspective of a passenger, there is also much to love about the plane:

  • The plane has many of the amenities you'll find in an A350 or 787, although it's still a narrow body
  • The A220 is in a 2-3 configuration, so there is only one intermediate seat in each row
  • The A220 has a quiet and modern cabin.

This is my experience flying Delta's first class A220, to give you an idea of ​​what it's like to fly by plane.

Cab Delta A220-100

Airbus announces the improvement of its A220 range

Airbus is making great improvements on this plane without even re-launching it technically. Airbus has announced that the A220 will offer a greater scope from the second half of 2020..

Essentially, Airbus can increase the maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of the A220 by 2,268 kg. This is being achieved by taking advantage of structural margins and existing systems, and by increasing the capacity of existing fuel volume.

With this change:

  • The A220-100 will have a maximum range of 3,400nm.
  • The A220-300 will have a maximum range of 3,350 nm.

For both the A220-100 and the A220-300, the maximum range of the aircraft is increased by approximately 450nm.

As described by the Commercial Director of Airbus:

"In the true tradition of Airbus, we constantly improve our products. This new MTOW will allow operators to reach markets that today can not serve other types of small single-aisle aircraft. "

On which routes does the wider range of the A220 open?

Obviously, Airbus expects this increase in the range to generate more orders for the plane. Airbus notes that this increase in scope will allow airlines to operate new routes from Western Europe to the Middle East, or from Southeast Asia to Australia.

We have also heard a lot about the possibility that airlines use the A220 for transatlantic operations. With the previous range of the plane, operational transatlantic flights were right on the margins, whereas now it could be done easily.

For example, take the 3,350 nm range in the A220-300 (which is the shortest range of the two planes). With that increased range, all types of routes are easily possible from the east coast of the USA. UU Up to Western Europe (this map shows a range of 3,350 nm from Boston).

However, it is interesting that the Airbus press release talks about the potential to fly from Southeast Asia to Australia, and the potential to fly from Western Europe to the Middle East.

Why are not transatlantic flights mentioned? Because it seems that the demand is not there. Airlines are already using aircraft such as the A321 and 737 for transatlantic flights, and they are considered to be low capacity aircraft for transatlantic flights. So I guess that operating even smaller aircraft has limited appeal.

Bottom line

The improvement of the Airbus range on the A220 is even more impressive. To be fair, however, the plane already offered very good autonomy.

While the A220 is a fantastic plane, and although there are many long and thin routes, I think the demand to operate these planes in more than 3,500 flight miles is quite limited.

I will be curious to see how many airlines take advantage of the incredible new range of the A220.

What do you think? Is there a demand for airlines to operate flights of more than 3,500 miles with 100-150 seat aircraft, or are the planes of the A320 / 737 family covered?

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