View Full Version : A320 vs A321 Differences?

29th Apr 2008, 00:59
Is there anyone who could point out differences in systems, loadsheet, flying handling etc?

Does anyone have any special experiences with the A321 that is not common on the basic A320?

I've flown the A319 but I'm now moving the A321 in a few weeks.


29th Apr 2008, 01:40
Hi Founder,

At my airline, we do a mix of 319, 320 & 321 flying. Here are some of my observations when it comes to handling the not-so-small-bus... This list is by no means extensive and all inclusive, but rather consists of some of the things I have noticed.

1- Taxiing requires more pronounced over steering, especially on small taxiways. Also, in a turn, the wing may clear but the tail may not.

2- The aircraft is prone to tail strikes on take-off and landing. The rotation has to be performed gently and at the recommended rate. For landing, pay particular attention to the pitch attitude. Exceeding 7.5 degrees nose up is not recommended. Same applies to bounces... (but that only happens to others, right :))

3- In flight, the aircraft does not perform as well as the 319 and 320. Rate of climb is much lower and initial altitudes above FL320 or 330 are rare (of course, circumstances may vary). I don't think I have ever climbed above 350 in the 321, even on sectors over 3-4 hours. The 321 provides a good smooth and solid ride though, and it is much quieter than its smaller siblings.

4- Due to its higher inertia, altering the ship's state of energy takes more time and distance. ie: the airplane won't slow down or come down as easily as the smaller buses. Correcting for being high on profile requires more distance or drag, and therefore it is easy to get caught a little high and fast around the intermediate fix or base leg if proper anticipation is not exercised. You will also notice the increased inertia when using manual thrust.

5- Landing is a crosswind, the airplane requires relatively little rudder and aileron input when squeezing out the drift, especially when compared to the 319. The corrections have to be smooth, otherwise the airplane becomes a handful to fly very quickly.

6- Landing distances are increased, and I find the brakes are less powerful, relatively speaking, when compared to the 319 or 320. In my opinion, they are a little small on the 321 for the increased inertia of the aircraft, especially when landing close to MLW. (you will find that the brakes get warmer than on the other babybuses). I find autobrake LOW is virtually useless, unless you have an extremely long runway to land on or are very light.

That's about all I can think of right now. I'm sure others will add on to that.

Have fun with your new toy !

Dan Winterland
29th Apr 2008, 02:44
It has the same wing, but different flaps which are a bit more efficient. They also have a Flap 2 limit of 215kts - which is just as well - otherwise you would never be able to slow down. You can also get full airbrake with the AP in the 321. But full AB is about as efficient as half AB in the 320.

A common trend with most operators 321s is that they are either a bit heavier than admitted, or the FACs reference to an incorrect AoA. On the approach, the VREF (from the FMGSs) is often less than 5 kts more than VLS. If you access the Alpha Parameters page, you will see why. The FACs in our aircraft are nearly always registering a mass of about 2 to 3 tonnes above the FMGC mass. Manually adding a few kts to VREF is always a good idea in these circumstances.

The aircraft have the same packs and APU, which means on the ground in a 321 in hot climates, it's hard to keep the cabin temps down on the ground. So anticipate by winding them down a bit before shutting the engines down.

Dream Land
29th Apr 2008, 04:41
1. More stable than the A320, a delight to land, bigger wheels and brakes that won't grab.

2. Although more susceptible to tail strikes, not a problem as long as don't do any two stage rotation procedures, follow the Airbus procedure exactly that of the A320, landings is where most strikes occur due to unstable approaches or dual input.

3. If you are arriving over 70 tonnes, try not to get too far above profile on descent, it is hard to recover the altitude and then slow down, a bit more planning is necessary compared to the sports car performance of the A320.

4. Speed brakes are about 50% of the A320 and inhibited after Config 2.

Great handling aircraft, a delight to fly. :ok:

29th Apr 2008, 09:17
My personal favourite of the 3, (soon to be 4 with the 318!)

Won't go over the previous points, however flap 1 selection on a heavy aircraft can cause a few problems with a very small split between flap limiting speed and Vls!

Also the speedbrake is a direct Vls pump with a lovely, rapid rise when selected, watch out below 250kts.

Aside from it's quirks, which are almost as numerous as mine :eek: , it is a delight to fly.


29th Apr 2008, 13:18
Interresting to hear cockpit feedback. :ok: Most of it is what I would assume for a longer aircraft. Remarkable IMO is the reduced braking power and Airbus' apparent decision not scale it up.


I always wondered why Airbus never launched a growth version of the A320, "A320.5". The A321 is so much longer then the A320 (delta is 7m / 23ft) and represent a jump in capasity (8/9 seatrows). Maybe it would have been a better idea then developing the overweight 110 seat A318..

29th Apr 2008, 16:30
Agree with all the above except that I found the brakes better on the A321 over the 319/320.

Dan Winterland
29th Apr 2008, 16:44
Undercarriage and brakes are uprated on the 321. LDRs are about the same for a 320.

29th Apr 2008, 23:02
Great tips guys, tt will help a lot =) Thanx =)

What about differences in loading the aircraft compared to the A319? And what about autoland any differences?


Dream Land
30th Apr 2008, 05:58
Fil, agree with you, sometimes brakes get grabby when warm on the A320, no such problem on the A321, great brakes.

30th Apr 2008, 09:52
[QUOTE=Founder;4082836]What about differences in loading the aircraft compared to the A319? And what about autoland any differences?[QUOTE]

She is nose heavy. Empty one may go over your tailored OPS CG limits (not crossing the AB factory ones, however!) At your preffered off-path summer destination, ask to put all baggage in CPT.4 and distribute passangers evenly through the cabin (to much surprise I did manage to overload :ooh: 321 to the back, learned thereafter).

Autolands may differ, but that must have been solved by the real engineers 15+ years ago. Yet, for CAT III A with DH (e.i. France) do look into the manuals as the limitations change. Zero on 319 and 18 ft on 321. If the gray matter works.

Yours, FD
(the un-real)

30th Apr 2008, 18:31
Contrarily to what has been said, the 321 wing is bigger. The outboard wing has a greater chord, by how much, like 5 cm tapering toward the tip.
The trailing edge flap system is quite different, too : a double slotted Fowler on the 321 vs a single slotted flap on the 320.
These differences arose not for performance needs but as an attempt to shallow-up the aircraft attitude at take-off and landing (tail strike avoidance if you asked me).
As the gain in Cl was minimal, the 321 has faster approach and landing speeds than the other members of the family... As a consequence, one should well be wise enough to advise ATC of this higher speed prior to slotting into a final spacing.

30th Apr 2008, 19:21
As the gain in Cl was minimal, the 321 has faster approach and landing speeds than the other members of the family

Thought the increased speed was to avoid tailstrikes. Think
the 737NG family has that if I remember correct.