The A320neo has taken to the air for the first time, flying from Toulouse Blagnac Airport for around two and a half hours.
The aircraft – carrying the registration F-WNEO – was flown by Airbus Experimental Test Pilots Philippe Pellerin and Etienne Miche de Malleray. Accompanying them in the cockpit was Test-Flight Engineer Jean-Paul Lambert. Monitoring the progress of the flight profile were the Flight-Test Engineers Manfred Birnfeld and Sandra Bour-Schaeffer.
Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier said: “I congratulate the whole A320neo development team, ground crew and air crew for making this day happen. The A320neo which has taken to the air today builds on the outstanding success of the A320 Family. The aircraft through its incremental innovations combines the most efficient engine and aerodynamic technologies, as well as new cabin features to bring to market a product which will consume 20 percent less fuel per passenger.”
For its first flight, the A320neo, powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM engines, lifted off from Blagnac at around 60 tonnes. During the flight, which took the aircraft around southern France, the crew explored the aircraft’s flight envelope and systems operation, while the progress was monitored by experts on the ground in real-time via a direct telemetry link.
This maiden flight marks the beginning of a rigorous flight test campaign involving eight aircraft encompassing all models and both new engine options – the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM and the CFM International LEAP-1A turbofans. Overall, the NEO development fleet will perform a combined total of around 3,000 hours of flight testing. The A320neo with Pratt & Whitney engines will be the first variant in the Neo Family to receive type certification followed by its entry into airline service in the 4th quarter of 2015 with first operator Qatar Airways.