The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has formally approved a 149-seat Airbus A220-300 variant, with an exit slide modification over the wing.
The modification adds capacity for four additional seats to the original A220-300’s capacity of 145 passengers.
Air France is expected to be the first airline to introduce the newly-approved A220-300 with larger capacity, with aircraft set to join the airline’s fleet in September.
The introduction of an over-performing Type III exit, with a dual-lane overwing slide replacing the single-lane slide, enables the carriage of additional passengers, said the EASA.
The EASA noted that separate airworthiness certification is required for the installation of customised cabin layouts accommodating for all 149 passengers, as well as any necessary cabin changes also required to accommodate the additional passengers.
Similar exit slide modifications have also enabled the European planemaker to add a few extra seats to its A320neo family jets.
Earlier this year, Airbus announced it was now possible to increase the range on its A220-300, the largest of its A220 variants, by some 200 nautical miles.
According to Airbus, from mid-2021 it will be offering A220-300 customers with a range increase of 200 nautical miles, after increasing the aircraft’s maximum take-off weight (MTOW) by one tonne to 70.9 tonnes.
The ability to carry said additional weight allows the aircraft to carry more fuel, which then extends its range.
Airbus vice-president of single-aisle marketing Antonio Da Costa said, “As we were running through the numbers and looking through the reserve factors on the structure – we actually found that there was additional margin available in the structure of the [A220-300].”
He said this enabled the airframer to take the aircraft’s weight “to the limit of what we could find”, and certify the MTOW at the higher figure of 70.9 tonnes.
Da Costa said the range increase will be “made available to all customers”, as the aircraft requires no physical upgrade or adaptation to increase said range – it is instead just a “paper change”.
Additional reporting by Airlinerwatch.