There’s been a great deal of talk lately that AirFrance is interested in the A220 to replace its A318 and A319 fleets. It’s said to have been urging Airbus to look at a stretched version being dubbed the A220-500.
That would handily cover off the just below A320neo range and all of the A318/19 aircraft in one type.
At the same time Qantas is looking at replacing the 738’s. The MAX is the obvious choice, but its reputation is a hard sell and it’s considered to be a little large for many of the destinations it flies to.
Qantas has a good number of long thin routes domestically and the A220, in a -500 format would be ranged and economic – an ideal future choice.
The downside is its initial cost is relatively high and Airbus don’t seem over keen to discount by much.
Neither airline have said the rumours are untrue. However Airbus almost but not entirely, ruled out the -500 idea.
To build it would almost certainly need around 100 firm orders to justify the cost of development, even though that would be relatively low.
It would probably need slightly uprated engines and a shorter, redesigned vertical stabiliser because of the increased length. Never mind all the airworthiness testing and changes to production and components.
Will it ever happen? Maybe. It will though take more than just two airlines to make it viable, which is the underlying message behind the Airbus statement.