The Airbus A318 is the smallest member of the Airbus A320 family of short- to medium-range, narrow-body, commercial passenger twin-engine jet airliners manufactured by Airbus. The A318 carries up to 132 passengers and has a maximum range of 3,100 nmi (5,700 km; 3,600 mi). Final assembly of the aircraft takes place in Hamburg, Germany. It is intended primarily for short-range service, although British Airways uses them on their London City Airport to New York-JFK Airport transatlantic route (albeit on the westbound leg with a stopover in Shannon for refueling).
The aircraft shares a common type rating with all other Airbus A320 family variants, allowing existing A320 family pilots to fly the aircraft without the need for further training. It is the largest commercial aircraft certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency for steep approach operations, allowing flights at airports such as London City.
The A318 entered service in July 2003 with Frontier Airlines. Relative to other Airbus A320 family variants, it has sold in only small numbers with total orders for only 80 aircraft placed, with the order book currently being empty.
The first member of the A320 family was the A320 which was launched in March 1984 and first flew on 22 February 1987. The family was soon extended to include the stretched A321 (first delivered 1994), the shortened A319 (1996), and the further shortened A318 (2003). The A320 family pioneered the use of digital fly-by-wire flight control systems, as well as side stick controls, in commercial aircraft.
The A318 was born out of mid-1990s studies between Aviation Industries of China (AVIC), Singapore Technologies Aerospace, Alenia and Airbus on a 95- to 125-seat aircraft project. The programme was called the AE31X, and covered the 95-seat AE316 and 115- to 125-seat AE317. The former was to have an overall length of 31.3 metres (102 ft 8 in), while the AE317 would be longer by 3.2 metres (10 ft 6 in), at 34.5 metres (113 ft 2 in). The engines would be supplied from two BMW Rolls-Royce BR715s, CFM56-9s, or Pratt & Whitney PW6000s; with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 53.3 tonnes (118,000 lb) for the smaller version and 58 tonnes (128,000 lb) for the AE317. The thrust requirements were 77.9–84.6 kilonewtons (17,500–19,000 lbf) and 84.6–91.2 kilonewtons (19,000–20,500 lbf), respectively. Range was settled at 5,200 kilometres (2,800 nmi) and 5,800 kilometres (3,100 nmi) for the high gross weight versions of both variants. Both would share a wingspan of 31.0 metres (101 ft 8 in) and a flight deck similar to that of the A320 family. Costing $2 billion to develop, aircraft production was to take place in China.
The aircraft was first named A319M5 in as early as March 1995, as an A319 derivative with fuselage shortening of 0.79 metres (2 ft 7 in) ahead of the wing and 1.6 metres (5 ft 3 in) behind. The final proposal was for an aircraft seating 107 passengers in a two-class layout with a range of 3,350 kilometres (1,810 nmi). The aircraft’s production took advantage of laser welding, eliminating the necessity for heavy rivets and bolts. Overall, the A318 is over six metres shorter and around 3 t (6,600 lb) lighter than the A320. To compensate for the reduced moment arm, it has a larger vertical stabiliser. While initial concepts depicted the aircraft with a Boeing 737-style dorsal fin extension, the final design incorporated a fin tip extension, making it 75 centimetres (30 in) taller than the other A320 variants. Pilots who are trained on the other variants may fly the A318 with no further certification, since it features a common flight deck and the same type rating as its sister aircraft.
The A318 is available with a variety of different maximum take-off weights (MTOW) ranging from a 59 tonne, 2,750 km (1,500 nautical mile) base model to a 68 tonne, 6,000 km (3,240 nmi) 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 – New York, Perth–Auckland and Singapore–Tokyo, for instance. Its main use for airlines, however, is on short, low-density hops between medium-sized cities.
During the design process, the A318 encountered several problems. The first one was the decline in demand for new aircraft following the September 11 attacks. Another was the new Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines, which burned more fuel than expected; by the time CFM International (CFM) had a more efficient engine ready for market, many A318 customers had already backed out, including Air China and British Airways. America West Airlines, which had selected the Pratt & Whitney engines, amended its A318 orders, opting instead for A319 or A320 aircraft. Trans World Airlines cancelled a significant order for fifty A318s after being acquired by American Airlines, which did not operate any A320 family aircraft at the time (although neither did TWA when the order was originally placed). 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 charges such as landing fees, limiting the type’s market potential.
The aircraft is powered by two CFM56-5 or Pratt & Whitney PW6000 engines with thrust ratings of between 96 and 106 kilonewtons (21,600 and 23,800 lbf). Launch customers Frontier Airlines and Air France took deliveries in 2003, with Frontier receiving its aircraft in July of that year. The list price of an A318 ranges from $56 to $62 million, and operating costs are between $2,500 and $3,000 for each flight hour.
Orders for the A318 have been relatively slow, but slightly better than for its direct competitor the Boeing 737–600. At 30 June 2015, Airbus had received 80 orders for this model compared to 69 for the 737-600. The sales pace has been influenced by the strong sales of the Bombardier CRJ900 and Embraer E-Jets series. The biggest A318 customers at 30 June 2015 were Governments, Executive and Private Jets (20), Air France (18), LATAM Airlines Group (15), GECAS (12) and Frontier Airlines (9).
On 10 November 2005 Airbus announced the A318 Elite. The Airbus A318 Elite is aimed at the medium-range market for flights of up to 4,000 nm (7,400 km) range, with a choice of two cabin layouts seating up to 18 passengers, and powered by CFM engines. Comlux Aviation became the launch customer by ordering three A318 Elite aircraft.
In September 2010, Airbus confirmed that from 2013 the Airbus A318 would become available with Sharklets, wingtip devices which reduce lift-induced drag and improve efficiency through reduced fuel consumption. The optional devices, which will also be available on other Airbus A320 family models and are manufactured by Korean Air Aerospace Division, will increase the range of the aircraft to 5,930 km (3,200 nm) – an increase of 185 km over a standard A318 with 107 seats in a two-class configuration.
The Airbus A318 is a small, narrow-body (single-aisle) aircraft with a retractable tricycle landing gear and is powered by two wing pylon-mounted turbofan engines. It is a low-wing cantilever monoplane with a conventional tail unit having a single vertical stabilizer and rudder. Two suppliers provide turbofan engines for the A318: CFM with its CFM56 and Pratt & Whitney with the PW6000 engine.
Steep approach capability
In March 2006 the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified a modified control software enhancement to the Airbus A318 designed to allow the aircraft to perform steep approaches. The aircraft is the largest commercial aircraft certified by EASA for steep approach operations. The software modifies the control laws of the aircraft when the steep approach function is selected by the crew, by automatically deploying some of the spoiler panels to provide additional drag when the aircraft is in the landing configuration. It also provides alternative aural alerts to the crew and modifies spoiler deployment automatically below 120 feet (37 m) on landing. The A318 steep approach procedure allows the aircraft to perform approaches at descent angles of up to 5.5°, as opposed to the standard 3° for a normal approach.
A test flight was conducted in May 2006 at London City Airport where the aircraft proved its steep approach and short runway performance, and its compatibility with the limited manoeuvring and parking space at the airport. Subsequently in September 2009 Airbus delivered the first A318 with steep approach capability to British Airways, which as of 2012 operates two such aircraft on flights between London City and John F. Kennedy International Airport. On the outbound leg from London, a stopover for refueling at Shannon is necessary, as the aircraft would be unable to depart London City Airport with the amount of fuel needed to cross the Atlantic, given the short runway length at London City Airport. On the eastbound leg from New York this limitation is not present and the plane can take all the fuel needed for the transatlantic route to London. They are operated in a 32-seat all business class configuration  as flights BA001-4, the flight numbers previously used by Concorde on flights to New York.
The maiden flight of the Airbus A318 took place at Toulouse on 15 January 2002, and the first customer delivery was on 22 July 2003 to Frontier Airlines. As of 30 June 2015, 69 A318s remained in service with 5 airlines, in addition to Governments, executive and private jets and undisclosed operators.
As of 30 June 2015, Airbus A318 operators are:
|United Kingdom||British Airways||2|
|Governments, Executive and Private Jets||18|
Orders and deliveries
Data through end of October 2015. Updated 6 November 2015.
|Seating capacity||136 (1-class, maximum)
117 (1-class, typical)
107 (2-class, typical)
|Cargo capacity||21.21 m3 (749 cu ft)|
|Length||31.44 m (103 ft 2 in)|
|Wingspan||34.10 m (111 ft 11 in)|
|Wing area||122.6 m2 (1,320 sq ft)|
|Wing sweepback||25 degrees|
|Tail height||12.51 m (41 ft 1 in)|
|Cabin width||3.70 m (12 ft 2 in)|
|Fuselage width||3.95 m (13 ft 0 in)|
|Operating empty weight||39,500 kg (87,100 lb)|
|Maximum zero-fuel weight (MZFW)||54,500 kg (120,200 lb)|
|Maximum take-off weight (MTOW)||68,000 kg (150,000 lb)|
|Cruising speed||Mach 0.78 (828 km/h/511 mph at 11,000 m/36,000 ft)|
|Maximum speed||Mach 0.82 (871 km/h/537 mph at 11,000 m/36,000 ft)|
|Maximum range, fully loaded||3,100 nmi (5,700 km; 3,600 mi)|
|Take off run at MTOW (sea level, ISA)||1,828 m (5,997 ft)|
|Maximum fuel capacity||24,210 L (5,330 imp gal; 6,400 US gal)|
|Service ceiling||12,000 m (39,000 ft)|
|Engines (×2)||Pratt & Whitney PW6000 series or
CFM International CFM56-5 series
|Fan diameter||56.5 in (1.44 m) (PW6000)
68.3 in (1.73 m) (CFM56-5)
|Thrust (×2)||96–106 kN (22,000–24,000 lbf)|
Source: Airbus, Airliners.net
|Aircraft Model||Certification Date||Engines|
|A318-111||23 May 2003||CFM56-5B8/P|
|A318-112||23 May 2003||CFM56-5B9/P|
|A318-121||21 December 2005||PW6122A|
|A318-122||21 December 2005||PW6124A|