Airbus test-flies less-thirsty A320neo
Airbus on Thursday sent its new A320neo -- an updated, more fuel-efficient version of its hugely popular medium-haul A320 passenger plane -- into the skies on its first of several test flights before deliveries next year to waiting customers.
The narrow-body, two-engined aircraft took off from Toulouse-Blagnac airport in southwest France where Airbus is headquartered for a two-hour flight, an AFP reporter witnessed.
The European planemaker has orders from 60 customers for 3,257 of the A320neos after they start to be delivered in October 2015, Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy told reporters.
The stated catalogue price is between $94 million and $120 million (74 million and 94 million euros) each, depending on configuration, but is often discounted.
The plane -- whose "neo" designation stands for "new engine option" -- is designed to consume 15 percent less fuel than the current A320s in service, a significant selling point for airlines in the cutthroat medium-haul sector.
The neo boasts aerodynamic improvements including little curved winglets, trimmed weight and more efficient engines.
Airbus says its current version of the A320 family, which includes the smaller A319 and bigger A321, has 60 percent of the medium-haul market, ahead of US rival Boeing with its 737 aircraft.
© 2014 AFP