Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
An extended service life for the A320
Article Type: Mini features From: Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology: An International Journal, Volume 80, Issue 3.
Airbus reports that it is developing a new package that will allow A320 Family operators to fly their aircraft for an additional 10-20 years or even longer. Based on in-service experience and market expectations, the Extended Service Goal (ESA) package, launched in early 2007, is divided into two phases. ESA I will enable A320 Family aircraft to fly up to 60,000 flight cycles (FC) or 120,000 flight hours (FH) and is planned for approval by the end of 2010. ESA II will go even further, up to the maximum economic potential of the airframe.
The A320 Family incorporates all the latest advances in technology, such as fly-by-wire flight controls, the extensive use of new materials, an advanced flight deck with side sticks and the Centralised Fault Display System. Airlines have benefited from A320 Family advanced technology and its unique operational commonality, also with the subsequent Airbus aircraft, for over 20 years of successful operation and demand for the A320 Family continues to be very high, with more than 3,300 aircraft delivered to 200 operators and a backlog of more than 2,300.
The maintenance programme of first aircraft is coming close to the end of the original approved validity (48,000 FC/ 60,000 FH). For aircraft having already reached 60,000 FH, an Intermediate Service Goal solution was provided in late 2007 to allow these FH driven aircraft to be operated until ESA I completion.
The ESA will enable A320 Family operators to earn additional revenue by flying their aircraft longer as well as benefiting from the increased residual value of their Airbus single-aisle fleets. In addition, A320 operators will be able to make the most of the aircraft's potential with the Airbus fleet upgrade and harmonisation packages such as the Airbus In-service Enhancement Package, the enhanced cabin or fuel saving measures offered by Airbus to keep in-service aircraft at the highest level of efficiency.
To achieve approval for the ESA package, Airbus carried out full scale fatigue tests in January 2008, on specially manufactured partial aircraft test sections. The original A320 configuration will be taken into consideration as well as the specificities of each type, such as A321 sections, for example. All the results will be compiled to show the fatigue behaviour of the complete aircraft. These tests will take into account the 20 years experience in A320 Family operations and make use of new generation calculation and simulation methods in a modern and representative test environment. The tests will continue until mid-2010 to assess and confirm the ESA II requirements.