Lan Xinguo, chairman of Sichuan Airlines, is proud his company was the first Chinese airline to operate the Airbus A320 aircraft.
It will also be the first Chinese airline to operate the aircraft assembled in the Airbus A320 assembly line in Tianjin.
The new assembly line in Tianjin will officially open at the end of the month, with its first aircraft delivered to Sichuan Airlines on lease from Dragon Leasing in mid 2009.
Lan said that facts have proved that the decision to operate Airbus A320 aircraft was right and wise.
The airline has benefited from high reliability and low costs of the aircraft, he said.
There are more than 350 A320s now in service by 12 operators on the Chinese mainland and still more than 400 on order.
Worldwide, more than 6,300 Airbus A320s have been sold and more than 3,500 delivered to some 280 customers and operators worldwide, making it one of the world's best-selling commercial jetliners ever.
With the successful entry into service of the A320 in 1988, Airbus expanded it into a family that includes A318, A319, A320 and A321 in the following years.
The Airbus family grew in its effort to give customers the opportunity to build fleets with maximum flexibility. Thanks to fly-by-wire commonality, an airline can operate Airbus aircraft across a whole range of sectors, from short-haul to ultra long-haul, switching cross-qualified pilots and crews according to needs at short notice. Maintenance costs are also lower, a significant benefit to operators.
Airbus pioneered the fly-by-wire concept with its A320 family, and years of reliable service around the world have proven its significant benefits through commonality, improved flight safety, reduced pilot workload, a reduction of mechanical parts and real-time monitoring of all aircraft systems. The use of a digital cabin management system on all A320 aircraft makes the control of interior lighting, temperature, audio, video and other systems quick and easy through a centralized data system.
The A320's fly-by-wire technology was not only a way of improving flight control and reducing weight. It enabled Airbus to take safety to a new level by introducing the flight envelope protection.
A320 family's advanced technology and maximum operational flexibility result in lower fuel burn, reduced maintenance costs, lower direct operating costs and higher residual values than competing aircraft.
The wider fuselage also provides increased cargo capability. The A319, A320 and A321 are unique in their category in offering a containerized cargo loading system that is essential for profitable cargo operations.
The advantages of the A320 family's wide fuselage extends below the main cabin into the underfloor cargo holds, which are wider and deeper than any other single-aisle aircraft, and accommodate airline-standard LD3 containers also used on wide-body aircraft.
A further advantage the A320 offers is its wider cabin, enabling airlines to install more spacious seats with a wider aisle.
The cabin size and shape allows for larger overhead stowage compartments to be fitted, which offer more convenience and lead to faster boarding and deplaning.
A320 in China
China Southern Airlines is the largest A320 family aircraft operator in the country, with 105 of the aircraft in service. China Eastern operates 96, Air China 42, Sichuan Airlines 37, Shenzhen Airlines 19 while Hainan Airlines 17.
Start-up airlines in China, such as United Eagle Airlines, Junyao Airlines, East Star and Spring Airlines also chose the A320 for their fleets. The low costs are one of the reasons for their choice.
In addition, the commonality between the A320 and other larger Airbus aircraft such as A330/A340 and the double-decker A380 as well as the new A350XWB to be in service in 2013 will help these companies upgrade their fleet to larger Airbus aircraft.