Airbus has revealed a new cabin layout for the A321neo ahead of the first flight for the A320neo in September this year.
But it's not just about "putting more sardines in the can" says Klaus Roewe, Airbus' Senior Vice President for the A320neo family.
The new 'Cabin-Flex' configuration adds an extra 20 seats in a standard all-economy design, boosting the number of passengers from 220 to 240 but retaining the same degree of comfort.
Airbus' all-economy layout assumes 18 inch wide seats with 28 inch pitch, although the airline says that using modern slimline seats is “good for an extra 1-2 inches in pitch, so you have living space for your knees."
The revised design also delivers a "6% fuel per seat reduction", Roewe says – a vital factor considering that this update to the A320 single-aisle jets will become the domestic workhorse for many airlines.
Airbus currently counts almost 2,700 orders for the A320neo family – comprising the A319neo, A320neo and A321neo – from 52 customers, with the most recent being Air New Zealand’s pledge to buy thirteen of the next-gen jets to sharpen its competitive edge against Qantas on the trans-Tasman market.
"You can support a higher seat count and intelligently manage to to give living space and floor space to the customers" Roewe believes.
"We have reduced space for the galley and lavatory, with a new Space-Flex new rear galley configuration and Smart-Lav lavatory design to come" he says.
Airbus has also increased the number of passengers who can safely exit an A320neo family plane in the required time, with emergency exit doors which are taller and pack a wider inflatable slide.
The revised A321neo design also rejigs the location of the doors, as shown below.
"With increased evacuation limits we could eliminate door 2" Roewe explains, making for a more flexible cabin layout.
"This is the area where you want to position business or first class, so it removes that limitation for your layout and gives you additional seats."
Airbus expects the first A320neo to fly in September, Airbus NEO Flight Test Engineer Sandra Bour-Schaeffer confirmed at an Airbus media event today in Toulouse, adding that the first flight will be preceded by a "virtual flight test campaign" in the coming months.
Australian Business Traveller is attending the 2014 Airbus Innovation Days media conference in Toulouse, France as a guest of Airbus.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.