Airbus is advancing its plan for more radical enhancements to boost and sustain the A320neo from 2020 onward.

The manufacturer is moving into the next phase of its A320neo ID (incremental development) plan which, if sanctioned, will build on the interim A320neo Plus cabin and flight deck upgrade now in planning for introduction in 2017. The revamp is aimed at more fundamental improvements to the basic systems which, in architectural terms, have not been altered since the aircraft was originally developed. The shift to focus on the systems may also be accompanied by further enhancements to the aircraft's aerodynamics. Airbus is meeting this month with suppliers to evaluate advanced systems designs and assess opportunities for the ID upgrade package. "We expect to build the A320neo until the end of the next decade," Airbus Chief Operating Officer Tom Williams told Aviation Week at the Paris Air Show. "And we are always evaluating what further opportunities might be." He cautions that any changes would have to be based on a "clear business case" and ensure "full interoperability." Airlines would have to be ensured that cross-crew qualification is guaranteed and maintenance and pilot training would not be affected. Williams also hints that Airbus is taking a look at whether some of the upgraded systems that may be introduced for newly built aircraft could actually be retrofitted to the in-service fleet. The Airbus COO said that every item will be decided one by one and could be rolled out toward the end of the decade.

"But there is not going to be a big bang," he said. On the systems side, avionics and the flight deck in general are likely to be a strong focus area for upgrades as "there has been a lot of technology change." Williams also sees the potential for further aerodynamic improvements although he does not see any "big steps." When it came to the A320neo, Airbus deliberately focused initially on key propulsion and aerodynamic improvements to gain maximum performance advantage in the shortest possible development time. Airbus has already progressed with substantial changes to the A320 cabin, galley, lavatory placement and layout to maximize seating capacity. Airlines also have the option of selecting new movable bins that are significantly larger than the existing ones.