JetBlue rang in the new year with a new aircraft type joining the fleet. Late on New Years Eve the carrier took delivery of its first A220-300, delivered from the final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama. The company promised it would take delivery of its first of the type in 2020 and it beat the deadline by mere hours.
[A]s we evolve our fleet for the future, the A220’s significant reduction in per-seat emissions supports our ongoing commitment to carbon neutrality for all our domestic flights, and moves us closer to achieving our pledge of net zero carbon emissions across all operations by 2040.– JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes
Powered by the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan engines, the A220s promise a 30% direct operating cost and 40% fuel burn cut per seat compared to the E190s they replace. Maintenance costs are also expected to drop 40% compared to the older Embraer planes. C. Jeffrey Knittel, Chairman & CEO Airbus Americas, notes, “This first A220-300 delivery creates new route possibilities for JetBlue, and raises their passenger experience to even higher standards.”
Updated cabin for the JetBlue A220
The A220 is expected to seat 140 in the JetBlue configuration, including 30 in the Even More Space layout with additional legroom. That would mean an extra row of EMS compared to what was suggested in an internal company briefing in 2019.
Compared to other airline layouts and given the number of rows planned this should be possible with at least a 34-36″ pitch for EMS and 32″ for the regular economy seats.
All seats will continue to have embedded screens for entertainment. The carrier previously announced this would be the Thales AVANT offering, similar to what is flying on the newer A321s and refreshed A320s. Picture-in-picture and personal device pairing (i.e. touchless remote control) are also part of the AVANT solution for JetBlue. Passengers will also have USB and AC power available at their seats to keep devices charged throughout their flights.
It will also feature the carrier’s FlyFi free, high-speed in-flight internet service powered by Viasat. That system is to be installed post-delivery; only the 2Ku solution is available as a line-fit option on the A220 today.
More details on the cabin interior are expected to be released later this month.
No “loo with a view” on the JetBlue model, unfortunately, as the carrier opted to put the lav in the rear galley area behind the aft doors. This is similar to the SpaceFlex setup on the new A320/A321 layout.
Bringing the JetBlue A220 into service
JetBlue is not pursuing a particularly aggressive crew training plan for the A220, a sensible approach given the relatively slow delivery schedule for the aircraft this year. Rather than a special training course for cabin crew the new type will be included as part of their annual recurrent training beginning this year. That approach should have enough flight attendants available to staff operations in the coming months, but it will create minor scheduling challenges until the full training cycle completes.
JetBlue currently holds firm orders for 70 A220s. Earlier in 2020 the carrier adjusted the delivery plans for the type, with seven more expected in 2021 and 8 in 2022.
The company revealed the new tail design “Hops” in October, building up to the delivery last week.
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