The first flight of the A320neo, powered by the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM geared turbofan, took place this morning in Toulouse. The first flight lasted 2 hours and 22 minutes, and was hailed as successful.
Airbus currently has firm orders for 49 A319neo, 2,484 A320neo, and 724 A321neo models, a total of 3,257 aircraft. In addition, it holds 1,105 options and 31 aircraft with a memorandum of understanding that brings the program total commitments to 4,393 as of today. The aircraft is scheduled to enter service with Qatar Airways in October, 2015.
New engine technology, combined with improvements in aerodynamics, enable the A320neo family to reduce fuel burn by 16% initially, and up to 18% over existing models with the PW1100G-JM Advantage engine that will be available starting in 2019. Given the order backlog, new orders would likely be for the improved engine option, as delivery slots are scarce before 2019 with the high demand for the program.
The A320 is the second aircraft to fly using the PW1000 geared turbofan, joining the Bombardier CSeries which first flew last year. Both aircraft are expected to enter service in the second half of 2015. The A320neo will offer two engine options, but the LEAP engine from CFM is scheduled for certification in the 2nd quarter of 2015, with first flight in the summer. The A320neo program remains a bit more than a year ahead of the competing Boeing 737MAX, which is not expected to enter service until 2017.