The A220-500 may never exist. Rather than the largest variant of the A220 family earning that designation, Airbus suggests it could be called ‘A221’.
In an interview with The Air Current, Christian Scherer, CEO of Commercial Aviation at planemaker, cited the nickname instead of A220-500.
Airbus continues to push the launch of the new single-aisle jet, claiming to have many uncertainties about it. One of them is precisely in size.
It is argued that the A221 will have to carry around 170 passengers in a standard configuration, around 20 seats more than the A220-300. But Scherer wants the aircraft to offer equal or greater range than current models.
Because of this, the manufacturer is studying to develop a new wing with composite material. Its rival, Embraer, follows a similar philosophy in the E2, which have custom-made wings for each version.
It is certain that the A221 will have engine options, as well as the A320neo family. In addition to GTF, from Pratt & Whitney, the plan is to certify the aircraft to be equipped with CFM LEAP, opening up more possibilities to potential customers.
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An A221 with 170 seats and a range of around 3,500 nautical miles would be a tough match for other jets like the Boeing 737 MAX and even the A320neo.
That’s because the unprecedented jetliner could fly to various destinations with fuel economy far superior to current aircraft in the category.
The launch horizon for the now A221 is uncertain, however. It will be necessary to wait for Airbus to be able to join the dots to create an unbeatable aircraft.