analysis

Qantas’ Airbus order: Why you’ll love travelling on the Flying Kangaroo’s new A220s

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Geoffrey ThomasThe West Australian
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The Airbus A220 interior
Camera IconThe Airbus A220 interior Credit: Credit Airbus

Qantas passengers will love the Airbus A220 regional jet, which will replace the airline’s 717s and some Fokker 100 operations in WA.

The airline has committed to ordering 20 of the A220-100 as part of a 40 order and 94 option announcement and includes the A321neoXLR.

The A220 was originally the Canadian Bombardier C Series but now has the backing of Airbus and is sold as part of the aerospace giant’s portfolio of airliners.

It features a 3-2 cross-section with 18-inch wide seats and the middle seat of the set of three is 19 inches (48.3cm) wide, while the aircraft’s very large windows make the cabin seem bigger than it is.

The overhead bin space is the largest of any regional jet and betters many larger aircraft.

The big benefits are for airport communities, with the A220 having a 50 per cent smaller noise footprint than the 717 — and the smallest of any commercial jet aircraft .

A Qantas Airbus A220
Camera IconA Qantas Airbus A220 Credit: Airbus

The A220 is also stingy on fuel burning 20 percent less than the aircraft it replaces and emits 50 per cent less NOx emissions than the standards.

Boeing needs a rethink

The decision by Qantas to opt for Airbus A320 family and the smaller A220 for its fleet replacement of the 162-seat 737 NG and smaller regional jets is a defining moment in aviation and should send Boeing back to the drawing board.

Qantas is one of the world’s most respected airlines. Its aircraft evaluation is beyond question and the airline’s selection for years has set the trend in aircraft success with such designs as the 707 and 747.

Airbus A320 and A220 side by side.
Camera IconAirbus A320 and A220 side by side. Credit: Credit Airbus

In 2005, when it ordered the Boeing 787, it forced Airbus to totally redesign its A350 into the very successful aircraft it is today.

Now Boeing must scrap plans to keep the Boeing 737 MAX going for another 10-plus years and design an all-new aircraft that has more capability.

The 737, first designed in the 1960s, has gone through four major overhauls — the Advanced, the Classic, the NG, and now the MAX.

Each has been very successful and met the majority of market needs but the original design was never intended to be used the way it is today and it has its limitations in its ability to be lengthened.

For airlines such as Virgin Australia and Bonza the 737 MAX is perfect but Qantas wants more capability – higher capacity and much longer range – which only the highest spec version of the A320 family – the A321neoXLR – can deliver.

The largest version of the MAX can carry a maximum of 230 passengers and has a maximum range of more than 6000km whereas the A320neoXLR capacity is 240 with a maximum range of 8000km.

The Airbus order gives Qantas far more capacity and range options and the real gem is the A220 regional jet, with its very popular 2-3 seating configuration and large windows.

The two versions, the -200 and -300, can seat a maximum of 135 and 160 respectively with a top range of just over 6000km.

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