JetBlue's first Airbus A220 completes maiden flight
Wednesday was an exciting day for Airbus and JetBlue.
The New York-based carrier's first Airbus A220 has completed its initial test flight. The jet took off from the planemaker's Mobile, Alabama, assembly line and returned safely after nearly six hours aloft.
JetBlue expects delivery of the aircraft by year's end, with plans to begin passenger flights in early 2021. This will be the first of 70 A220 aircraft on firm order by the airline.
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The A220-300 departed Mobile at 11:39 a.m. local time with clear skies. It then circled over the Gulf of Mexico, performing various test sequences, before touching back down at 5:22 p.m.
Related: Airbus delivers its first U.S.-assembled A220 from Mobile, Alabama
The jet features a new tailfin dubbed “Hops” by JetBlue. The airline says that the design is inspired by the idea of “connecting many short trips together as part of a larger journey” — or “hopping.”
While we don't know yet what routes the plane will fly, in May, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes hinted at higher-frequency routes like those between Boston (BOS) and Washington Reagan National (DCA). However, high-frequency routes like these have seen some major cuts due to the pandemic, so it's possible that the plane will launch on more leisure-oriented routes.
Related: Why the new Airbus A220 is popular with airlines during the coronavirus pandemic
The A220s will be laid out in a 2-3 all-economy configuration with a mix of standard and Even More Space seating for around 130 passengers. As with the rest of JetBlue's fleet, each seat will have personal in-flight entertainment screens and the aircraft will be outfitted with free high-speed Wi-Fi. The planes are intended to replace the carrier's 100-seater Embraer E190s, which are expected to be phased out by 2025.
JetBlue will become just the second U.S. operator of the A220, after Delta Air Lines, which debuted the plane in early 2019. The airline plans to add seven more A220s next year and eight in 2022.
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