MIAMI – Today in Aviation, Airbus conducted its first test flight of the Airbus A319 at its German plant in Hamburg in 1995.

The aircraft was developed, in layman’s terms, as a “shorter” version of the Airbus A320, with a shorter fuselage and only two overwing exits instead of four.

Aside from these changes, along with a smaller bulk-cargo door and minor software upgrades to accommodate the aircraft’s unique handling characteristics, the Airbus A319 is largely unchanged from the A320.

An American Airlines A319 taxis to the runway. American Airlines is the largest operator of the A319 in the world, with 133 total aircraft in their fleet. PC: Andrew Henderson @taxi_way_

A319 Overview

Airbus began taking orders for the aircraft as early as 1992, even though the aircraft had not even taken to the skies yet. Unfortunately, this was in the middle of a major aircraft industry depression, according to Collins Jane’s Civil Aircraft.

The International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) was the only customer to show any interest in the aircraft initially, with six orders. Eventually, more airlines would place orders for the aircraft, including Air Inter, Air Canada (AC), and Swissair (LX).

The Airbus A319 would undergo final assembly on March 30, 1995, at the company’s plant in Hamburg, Germany, before undertaking its maiden flight that same year today. The first A319 was delivered to LX in April 1996, entering service by the end of the month.

The direct competitor to the Airbus A319 is the Boeing 737-700. Multiple variants of the A319 have been developed over the years to serve other markets and stay ahead of the competition. The ACJ319 is the corporate jet version of the aircraft, sporting a wide variety of different passenger configurations and payloads depending on the customer’s needs.

Today, the ACJ319 serves as the official aircraft for government officials in Azerbaijan, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Thailand, Venezuela, and several other countries.

Like many members of the Airbus family, the A319 has a ‘neo’ variant, that is with a new engine option. Changes to the aircraft include aerodynamic refinements, sharklets, and a new cabin. These improvements have delivered per-seat fuel improvements of 20% and an additional range of 500 nautical miles.

Other variants of the A319 include the A319MPA, a military derivative, and the A319LR, the longer-range version that flies up to 4,500 nautical miles further than the original.

Today, the Airbus A319 remains especially with low-cost airlines, although their largest operator is American Airlines (AA) with 133 total aircraft.

Featured image: Airbus