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Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited
First metal cut for A318
First metal cut for A318
Keywords: Airbus, Air transport
The first A318-specific metal was recently cut using a precise "chemical milling" technique (similar to the etching process used to fashion micro-chips) at various plants around Europe. The first A318 specific panel was stretched in Saint Nazaire and milled in Nantes, France, and the first laser beam welded panel for the aircraft was completed at the Nordenham plant in Germany. Also, the "fan blade out" test was reported to have recently been successfully run on the new Pratt & Whitney PW6000 engine.
The A318 is considered well on track for final assembly of the first aircraft in the third quarter of this year, first flight with the PW6000 in early 2002 and entry into service at the end of 2002. The first CFM-powered A318 will make its first flight at the end of 2002 and enter airline service in 2003. We are also informed that three production aircraft will roll off the final assembly line in 2002 and the production rate will increase to four aircraft per month by mid-2003.
Trials with the first PW6000-powered aircraft will cover 450 hours of flight tests. A further 300 hours will be devoted to flight testing aircraft number two with the Pratt & Whitney engine, which will then be equipped with the CFM engines for a further 150 hours of flight tests. This aircraft will reportedly be on flying display at Farnborough in 2002.
The newest and smallest member of the highly successful A320 family, the A318 shares maximum commonality with its larger siblings, as well as with the entire Airbus fly-by-wire family of aircraft. As such, the new 107-seater provides both a lower capacity complement for existing A320 family customers and an attractive entry-level aircraft for aspiring A320 family customers. A reduced length version of the A319 – shorter by 94 inches/2.39 metres – the A318 shares the wider fuselage cross-section which passengers enjoy on all A320 family aircraft: a full 7.5 inches wider than its closest competitor.
The A318 was formally launched in April 1999 with three maximum take-off weights, 59 tonnes, 61.5 tonnes and 66 tonnes, giving ranges of 1,500nm, 2,000nm and 2,800nm respectively (2,750km/3,700km/5,200km) depending on airline needs. With a choice of either CFM56-5B or PW6000 engines, the A318 will thus be able to fly routes such as London-Barcelona or Denver-Boston with 107 passengers in a two-class layout.
We understand that a number of items to be introduced by Airbus will be tested on the A318 first. These include a new cabin intercommunication data system architecture (CIDS), of which many components – such as the flight attendant panel – are common to the A340-500/600. The in-flight entertainment (IFE) system with "in-seat video" and interface with Airbus in-flight information system (AFIS) is also to be tested on an A318 development aircraft for future extension to the entire A320 family.
The A318 is reported to have 218 orders and commitments from 11 customers to date.