The Airbus A320 is one of a group of aircraft made by Airbus as passenger jets that are usually assembled in their final stages in France or Germany. The original A320 made its first flight in 1987 and the first model was delivered the following year. This was the first series of jet to use digital fly-by-wire control systems in flight. Airbus offered a new engine option in 2010, and also improved the airframe at the same time. The first commercial carrier to use the new design will be Virgin America, in 2016.
Airbus developed three new winglet styles in 2006, to counteract drag more effectively. They used two separate aircraft for testing of these improvements, but did not offer the new winglet style to commercial carriers at the time. They stated that the weight of the modified winglets would offset the aerodynamic benefits of the modifications. Rather, they opted to test a design using a blended winglet, as part of the modernization program of the A320.
In late 2009, Airbus announced that it would release new units of the A320 with Sharklets, beginning in 2012. Air New Zealand will be the first carrier to launch the new models. The Sharklets reduce fuel burn as well as allowing payload increases or longer range of flight.
A newer A320 cabin design was used in 600 aircraft by early 2009. The company states that it will offer better storage for luggage and an overall quieter experience for fliers. The improvements also add a new galley and reduced cabin weight, as well as easier use by flight crew staff.
Airbus is currently working on a new A320 engine, which uses 16% less fuel than the original engines. This will allow about 500 miles of additional range or extra payload up to 4,400 pounds. The A320neo also includes wing modifications and the blended winglets they call Sharklets. Technical upgrades are almost always being worked on by Airbus, to give the flying consumers their best flight experience.