A220 The Airbus That Isn’t An Airbus

The story of the A220 is quite a peculiar one. An airliner that has become a great success in the Airbus lineup which though risked never to reach any airlines. So let’s take a look at the history of the Airbus A220 and the characteristics that make it an airline and passenger favourite along with its issues.

A220: An Airbus That Isn’t An Airbus

The history of the Airbus A220 is quite unique as it almost bankrupted the company that originally designed it. Although it is now one of Airbus’ best selling planes it initially rolled out of the production line as the Bombardier CS100 and CS300.

The CS100 was therefore rebranded as the A220-100 and the CS300 as the A220-300. They were part of an incredibly ambitious attempt by Canadian manufacturer Bombardier to take on Boeing and Airbus in the little jet segment.

Although the project and the plane itself had huge potential and initial test data showed that it was highly fuel efficient and reliable, things didn’t go as the manufacturer had hoped. The United States made it almost impossibile to sell the plane to any of its airlines with high duties applied on each plane. Also there were worries among airlines that Bombardier wouldn’t be able to keep up the needed maintenance on the plane.

All of this sunk any hope Bombardier had of ever making its 2 CS jets a success. Therefore the entire project was sold off with Airbus taking a majority stake and the Government of Quebec taking the remaining shares.

Once Airbus took over the project, the aircraft name was changed with a more standard structure. The name finally became the A220 in 2 variants the 100 and 300.

Air Baltic A220 Tail Fins in Riga Airport

Where is The A220 Produced?

All A220s are produced in North America. There are no assembly lines for this jet in Europe. Therefore all A220 planes currently flying in Europe made their way across the Atlantic on their delivery flight. Same goes for all A220s in Asia and Australia.

Currently the A220 is produced in 2 production plants, one in Canada and the other in the United States. Specifically the assembly lines are located in:

  • Mirabel-Montreal, Canada
  • Mobile, Alabama USA

The plant in the United States was set up with the clear intent to avoid any hefty import duties that might have been applied to the jet and to simplify deliveries to the large user base present. Mobile, Alabama, is also the plant were also the A320s are assembled within the US.

The Issues With the PW GTF Engines

Although extremely successful the A220 family does have one issue afflicting it. The engines specifically are the culprit. Currently upon purchasing an A220 you have only 1 option to power the planes: the Pratt & Whitney PW1500G Geared Turbo Fan engine.

The problem with this is that manufacturing defects have been discovered on this engine variant and the PW1100, used on many of the A320neo. Therefore a huge number of A220s around the world are having to undergo forced maintenance in order to rectify these issues and safeguard the travelling public’s safety.

There have been rumours about the possibility of a different engine option to be made available. However, so far nothing concrete has really happened on this front.

What Flights Is the A220 Used For?

The A220 is quite a peculiar aircraft. Its size would make it fall into the regional or short range jet category. However its performance tells us it is capable of covering significant distances. The A220-300 has a declared range of 3,600nm which is the distance from New York to London with 200nm to spare.

Therefore as you might immagine the plane has different uses depending on the operator. Some airlines might opt to use the A220 on thin and long routes others just on short hops.

Performance and Characteristics

Fuselage Width3,53,5
Cabin Width3,283,28
Cruise SpeedM0.82M0.82
Range6.390 km6.700 km
Fuel Capacity21.805L21.508L
Max Take-off Weight63,1t70,9t