Few people in 1972 could have appreciated how important a milestone in aviation history the first flight of Airbus A300BF-WUAB really was.
The most revolutionary aspect of the new A320 was the introduction of fly-by-wire technology, enabling the traditional control columns to be removed, replaced by small handgrip controls placed adjacent to the cockpit wall. The days of the pilot's two-handed control column grip were ended at a stroke and the A320 became the world's first fly-by-wire airliner.
The first major A320 derivative was launched during November 1989 the 180-seater A321. The A321 was a stretched version of the A320 with a 24 per cent increase in seating capacity. It was followed by a compressed 124-seat version: the stubby A319 entered service with Swissair during April 1996.
As combined sales of the A320 family near the 2,000 mark, Airbus anticipates a continued future for this innovative family: estimates are that more than 2,000 aircraft in the A319 category will be required world-wide over the next 15-20 years.