The French concern of Airbus unveiled their new A320 commercial aircraft family line in March of 1984 and eventually expanded the series by the introduction of the related A321, A319 and A318 series. The A320 was of a significant commercial aircraft milestone as it was the first of its type to see operations utilizing a digital "fly-by-wire" control system while utilizing an fighter aircraft-style side control stick. The A318 herself was developed from the A320 to fulfill the role of short-to-medium range passenger hauler and was driven by a consortium made up of France (Airbus), Alenia (Italy), Aviation Industries China (China) and Singapore Technologies Aerospace (Singapore). The end-product became a twin-engined, 107 to 132 seat airliner with a narrowbody design ("narrowbody" indicating its single aisle seating configuration).
The A318 prototype was then put through the requisite developmental paces and recorded a first flight on January 15th, 2002. Following certification in Europe and the United States, production began to which Frontier Airlines of Denver, Colorado, USA, became the A318's initial customer in 2003. Deliveries of the aircraft commenced in July. In the passenger airliner market, the A318 is a direct competitor to the American Boeing 737-600, the Brazilian Embraer 190/195 and the Canadian Bombardier Aerospace CSeries. To date (2012), the A318 has been delivered through 77 examples with an additional 25 units expected by the end of 2021 at a cost of $65 million per example. In comparison to the competition, orders have been slow yet steady.
Demand for the A318 was initially strong though issues with the rather thirsty Pratt & Whitney engines and the economical and psychological feel emanating from the 9/11 attacks on New York reduced its market appeal, leaving many once-interested parties to settle on alternatives or cancel their orders outright. Nevertheless, the A318 maintains a respectable foothold in the global market servicing customers in Europe, Central America and North America.
Overall design of the A318 is conventional as commercial aircraft go. The fuselage is well-contoured and streamlined for aerodynamic efficiency with a short nose cone at front and tapered end at rear. The cockpit is set just aft of the nose cone with framed window panels offering good views of the surrounding environment. The passenger cabin area is directly aft of the cockpit and expectedly lined with windows for each seat row. Entry/exit doors are found between the cockpit and passenger area and aft of the passenger area along the fuselage sides. Wings consist of low-set swept assemblies each managing the various required flight control surfaces as well as fuel stores and the underslung engine nacelles. The empennage is dominated by a tall vertical tail fin and low-set horizontal tailplanes. The undercarriage consists of a pair of double-tired main landing gear legs and a two-wheeled nose landing gear leg, all retractable. Overall length is 103 feet with a wingspan of 112 feet and overall height of 41 feet (all values rounded). Empty weight is listed at 87,000lbs with a maximum take-off weight of 120,000lbs.
The A318 is available in four distinct production forms varying mainly in their engine installation. The A318-111, debuting in 2003, is offered with the CFM International (General Electric Aviation and French SNECMA joint venture) CFM56-5B8/P series turbofan while the A318-112 (also 2003) appears with the CFM56-5B9/P engine. Alternatively, the A318-121 of 2007 and the A318-122 (also 2007) are delivered with the American Pratt & Whitney PW6122A and PW6124A series turbofan engines respectively. Engines are mounted as pairs on each form, one engine nacelle held under each wing. The engines output approximately 22,000 to 24,000lbs of thrust each and supplies the bird with a maximum speed of 537 miles per hour with an accepted cruise speed of 511 miles per hour. A runway of 6,000 feet is required for the aircraft under full load.
Operators of the A318 series are relatively limited between Air France (18), Avianca (10), Avianca Brazil (5), British Airways (2), Frontier Airlines (11), LAN Airlines (10) and TAROM (4). A related A318 development, the planned upcoming A318 "Elite", is intended for the medium-range market crowd.
Brazil; Chile; Columbia; France; Romania; United Kingdom; United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.
103.1 ft (31.44 m)
111.9 ft (34.10 m)
41.0 ft (12.51 m)
88,185 lb (40,000 kg)
120,152 lb (54,500 kg)
+31,967 lb (+14,500 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Airbus A318-100 production variant)
2 x CFM International CFM56-5B8/P OR CFM56-5B9/P turbofan engines OR 2 x Pratt & Whitney PW6122A OR PW6124A turbofan engines developing 22,000 - 24,000lbs of thrust each.
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