The A318, also known as the "Mini-Airbus", is the smallest member of the A320
family. During development it was known as the "A319M3," thus indicating its
history as a direct derivative of the A319. "M3" indicates "minus three
fuselage frames." The aircraft is six metres shorter and 14 tonnes lighter than
its predecessor. Pilots who are trained on the other A320 variants may fly the
A318 with no further certification since it features the same type rating as
its sister aircraft.
The A318 has a passenger capacity of 109 in a two-class configuration. It is
intended to replace early Boeing 737 and Douglas DC-9 models, though it is also
a rival to the current 737-600 and 717 (essentially an updated DC-9).
The A318 is available with a variety of different maximum takeoff weights
(MTOW) ranging from a 59 tonne, 2,750 km (1,500 nautical mile) base model to a
68 tonne, 6,000 km (3,250 nautical mile) version. The lower MTOW enables it to
operate regional routes economically while sacrificing range and the higher
MTOW allows it to complement other members of the A320 family on marginal routes.
The lighter weight of the A318 gives it an operating range 10% greater than the
A320, allowing it to serve some routes that the A320 would be unable to:
London-Jerusalem and Singapore-Tokyo, for instance. Its main use for airlines,
however, is on short, low-density hops between medium cities.
The A318 has one major disadvantage when compared to other A320 variants: its
cargo doors are too small to accommodate standard air freight containers, making
it nearly useless for carrying large cargo.
During the design process, the A318 ran into several stumbling blocks. The first
one was the decline in demand for new airplanes following the attacks of
September 11, 2001. Another one was the new Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines,
which burned more fuel than expected: by the time CFMI had a more efficient
engine ready for market many A318 customers had already backed out, including
Air China, American Airlines, and British Airways. While Airbus was hoping to
market the A318 as a regional jet alternative, laws in both the U.S. and Europe
have kept it in the same class as larger aircraft for calculating landing fees
and the like, so regional operators have avoided it.
It is powered by two CFM56-5 or Pratt & Whitney PW6000 with thrust ranges
between 21,600 to 23,800 lbf (96 to 106 kN) thrust. Launch customers
Frontier Airlines, America West, and Air France took deliveries in 2003, with
Frontier receiving their models in July of that year. The price of an A318
ranges from $39 to $45 million and operating costs are around $3,000 for a
500 mile flight.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Airbus A318".