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Replacement for A320 over decade away; AIRBUS WORKHORSE TO STAY IN PRODUCTION.

Byline: ERYL CRUMP

PRODUCTION of the A320, Airbus' best selling single aisle aircraft, is set to continue well into the next decade.

A replacement for the aircraft, whose wings are built at the Broughton plant in Flintshire, is unlikely to be in full production before 2024 at the earliest.

But the European manufacturer will launch a winglet program for the A320 family and decide by the end of next year whether to re-engine the single-aisle family plane.

Addressing a conference of airline chief executives at Barcelona last week Airbus spokesman Andy Shankland said the winglets would be offered to airlines in 2012 or 2013 as an option on new airframes.

He said offering them as retrofits would depend on whether the airline chose an Aviation Partners blended winglet design or the Airbus-designed sharklet which was air tested on an Airbus aircraft earlier this year The winglets would cut fuel burn by 2% to 4%, depending on the design.

Upgrades would start with the A321, in a move to compete better against Boeing's 737-900 and go after aging Boeing 757s, Shankland added.

The European air framer's next generation narrow body concept, the A30X, is now not expected for another 15 years.

Concepts published by the company last month provide an interesting glimpse into the potential for non-conventional concepts that could define the replacement of the A320 family.

"Rear mounted engines seem to be in the imagination of the company's engineers, with options for both ducted and unducted configuration, as well as a Sonic Cruiser style model, possibly for long range operations," said analyst Michael Hoffmann of London-based JSL Associates.

Meanwhile Boeing is studying new product enhancements for its 737 because replacement plans for have been delayed until about 2018.

Boeing spokesman Drew Magill would not comment on suggestions the manufacturer is considering a bridge model that would burn 10% less fuel until a replacement aircraft is ready for service.

welshnews@dailypost.co.uk

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Tests on a winglet equipped Airbus A320 were carried out earlier this year
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 14, 2009
Words:337
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