Browsing Tag: Airbus A320neo

An Airbus A320neo at the Airbus Delivery Center - Photo: A. Doumenjou | Airbus

A Frontier Airbus A320neo at the Airbus Delivery Center – Photo: A. Doumenjou | Airbus

In the last few years, engine technology has improved significantly for narrowbody aircraft. The competitive nature of the current short-haul U.S., European, and Asian domestic markets have airlines competing on cost and efficiency to offer the lowest possible ticket prices to their customers. The single biggest direct cost on almost all routes is the fuel that the aircraft burns, and burning less fuel is always better. Frontier Airlines is one of a few Ultra Low Cost Carriers (ULCC) in the U.S. that has been aggressively pursuing a modern, fuel efficient, all economy-class fleet to complement their ULCC business model. They are a U.S. launch customer for the Airbus A320neo (or New Engine Option) family of aircraft and also operated some of the first commercial flights with the CFM LEAP-1A engine. I was lucky enough to ride on one of these shiny new aircraft and talk to the flight crew about how it is changing the way we fly.

Frontier Airlines Airbus A320 (N220FR) with sharklets - Photo: Frontier Airlines

New Frontier Airbus A320 (N220FR) with sharklets – Photo: Frontier Airlines

Republic Airways Holdings has finally offloaded Frontier Airlines to a new owner, and right at the deadline.  Earlier this week, Indigo Partners agreed to purchase Frontier and continue the push towards making them an ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC).  Indigo and its head, William Franke, know a thing or two about ULCCs; up until recently they were responsible for Spirit Airlines’ growth to become a leader in the segment.

Frontier’s acquisition by a new owner obviously raises questions about their future, particularly as it relates to their home base of Denver International Airport.  Since 2006, when Southwest Airlines started ramping up its presence, Denver has been a three-carrier hub (with United Airlines being the third).  Many have doubted the stability and longevity of such an arrangement; as a Denver-based flyer, I can attest to the fact that the three carriers have managed to keep airfares extremely low.

High Resolution Image (click for larger) of what Boeing expects the winglet for the new 737 MAX will look like. Image from Boeing.

High Resolution Image (click for larger) of what Boeing expects the winglet for the new 737 MAX will look like. Image from Boeing.

Last month, Boeing announced some of the design decisions for their new Boeing 737 MAX. However, there was no news on what their plans were for the winglets.  Would they stay similar to those found on the 737 NG or would they go a more radical direction? Turns out somewhere in the middle.

Boeing is planning to go with a dual feather design that they are calling the “Advanced Technology” winglet (more on the name later).  They are expecting the new winglet will save an additional 1.5% fuel burn versus the one currently on the 737.

737 MAX winglet video from Boeing
“The Advanced Technology winglet demonstrates Boeing’s continued drive to improve fuel burn and the corresponding value to the customer. With this technology and others being built into the MAX, we will extend our leadership,” said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Boeing states in their press release, that the 737 MAX will provide an 18% fuel burn advantage over the current Airbus A320. Unfortunately, they fail to compare the MAX to the new Airbus A320neo.

According to Airbus, the A320neo will have a 15% better fuel burn advantage over the current A320, so it appears the 737 MAX and A320neo will most likely be quite competitive to one another. I expect that these numbers, for both aircraft, will continue to change during development, so don’t get attached to them. It is safe to say that the 737 and A320 will continue to be direct competitors.

The Boeing 737 MAX 7, 8 and 9 showing off the winglets selected. Image from Boeing.

The Boeing 737 MAX 7, 8 and 9 showing off the winglets selected. Image from Boeing.

I am all for improving the 737 and I love following the changes, but I have to say that I am not too happy with the names that Boeing is coming up with. Although the MAX name has grown on me a bit since when I first heard about it (I was really not a fan), can’t Boeing come up with a better (and cooler) name than “Advanced Technology winglet?” I almost fell asleep just typing out that name.

Airbus has already stated that they are putting new winglets on the A320s and are calling them “sharklets.” That is a great name.

Yes, I know an airline is not going to choose the A320neo vs the 737 MAX based on the names (at least they better not), but the 737 and its new winglet are products that are deserving of creative names. Boeing has a history of coming up with classic names (Stratocruiser, Clipper, Dreamliner, etc). I just don’t see “MAX” and “Advanced Technology winglet” going down in the history books quite in the same way.

See additional photos of the Boeing 737 MAX with new winglets on Boeing’s website.

Throughout the week, I upload photos to my server and share them on Twitter. They are photos I find interesting, but not quite enough to write a blog on. For those of you who don’t use Twitter, I want to share them, but not exactly sure how. Why not post a collection of links in a blog? Let’s give it a try and see how it goes — click on the links below for photos.

Lots of interesting photos. Click the links below to see larger versions.

Lots of interesting photos. Click the links below to see larger versions.

* On Tuesday July 26th, United Airlines Boeing 767 Flight 635 enroute from Chicago, landed in Seattle with brake issues and was met by fire trucks who quickly sprayed water on the aircraft’s brakes. No injuries were reported.

* Last week, Lufthansa announced 30 firm orders for the Airbus A320neo family of aircraft. The order consists of 25 Airbus A320neo and five Airbus A321neo aircraft.

* No in-flight entertainment system is safe from me. I have a way of requiring them to be restarted quite often and on my recent Singapore Airlines A380 flight was no exception.

* I have had a goal of catching a ride on a Beechcraft Starship and Dan Webb caught Starship N514RS at Oshkosh AirVenture last week.

* While on a long layover at LAX, I caught a glimpse of  Eva Air’s special 777 livery on a Boeing 777-300ER.

* I had the “opportunity” to see JAL’s new livery for the first time in person while stopping in Narita. I have to say that I was not that impressed — a bit too plain for my taste. Also caught an Asiana Boeing 747-400 in the same shot.

* Have you ever wondered how United Airlines goes about cleaning their front windscreens? I caught a worker cleaning the windscreen of the special Friend Ship livery A320 in Chicago during a recent trip.

* A little blast from the past, I wanted to share probably the happiest Lockheed L1011 I have ever seen. Great photo by LAXramper.

The new Airbus A320neo in Virgin America livery.

The new Airbus A320neo in Virgin America livery. Image from

Virgin American has announced they are the launch customer of the new Airbus A320neo with 30 orders of the aircraft. Before the first deliveries of the A320neo start in 2016, Virgin America also has orders for 30 Airbus A320’s with sharklets. This is a huge deal for the relatively new airline.

The Airbus A320neo is the next generation of the A320 family. The aircraft will allow New Engine Options (hence “neo”) which will increase range, lower fuel costs, while allowing airlines to keep a single fleet family of A320 aircraft.

Be sure to check out Dan Webb’s blog, Things in the Sky, as he was recently able to have a chat with Virgin America CEO David Cush and got some pretty interesting information.