The A318, the latest member of Airbus’ best-selling A320 Family, flew for the first time today with new PW6000A engines (PW6124A) from Pratt & Whitney. Certification of this aircraft engine combination should take place towards the end of 2005 after some 500 flight hours.

The A318 took off from the Finkenwerder airfield at Airbus’ Hamburg plant in Germany at 10h16 hours local time (09h16 UTC), and returned at 13h08 hours local time (12h08 UTC) after a successful mission.

The flight, lasting two hours and 52 minutes, was captained by Philippe Pellerin, Experimental Test Pilot with Bernd Schäfer, Chief Pilot in Hamburg as first officer, Manfred Birnfeld and Hermann Schmoeckel as Flight Test Engineers /Test Conductors and Jean-Paul Lambertas Test Flight Engineer. The crew tested the aircraft through the full flight envelope and carried out initial performance assessment and low speed characteristics. In all cases the engines performed exactly as anticipated.

For short-haul, high-utilisation operators, engine acquisition costs and maintenance work are the key economic drivers. The new PW6000A engine is designed to offer significant reduction in acquisition costs, maintenance costs and an increased time on wing. The engines are equipped with fewer compressor stages and 50 per cent fewer high-volume airfoils than other engines of this class in this segment. Seventy-five per cent of all line replacement units can be removed within 15 minutes while all life limited parts are designed to have the same long lives, thus leading to reduced maintenance costs. The PW6000A is meeting Stage 4 aircraft noise requirements and CAEP 6 engine emissions requirements with margin. The engine was FAR33 certified in November.

The A318 was launched in April 1999 to extend the benefits of Airbus commonality and comfort standards to the 100-seater plus market. Designed to serve high-frequency low-density routes, the A318 further strengthens the A320 Family’s position as the most versatile, economical and best-selling single-aisle aircraft available today. The A318 is the ideal aircraft for this sector, both for existing Airbus customers and for airlines wishing to join the ranks of some 200 carriers who have chosen to operate Airbus aircraft for their unmatched versatility, high-comfort standards and low-operating costs.

Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.