February 22 in Aviation History

On this day in aviation history we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first flight of what is now one of the most iconic airliners in aviation history.  On February 22, 1987, the Airbus A320 took to the skies for the very first time.  The A320 was developed as a direct competitor for the wildly successful Boeing 737 and McDonnel Douglas DC-9.  The plan from the very beginning was to have a multiple variant family of aircraft to challenge in this highly competitive market, which would be realized in the later development of the A321, A319, and A318.

The A320 was the first airliner to utilize fly-by-wire technology meaning the aircraft controls would be manipulated electronically rather than by cables, pulleys, or hydraulic systems.  It also utilizes a side joystick control as opposed to the traditional yoke seen on other aircraft.

In recent years, the A320 has found increased efficiency through the offering of a new engine option, or NEO, as well as blended winglets known as sharklets, which have also been retrofitted on older aircraft.

Apparently February 22 is a great day for an aircraft to take its first flight as the A320 shares the date of its maiden voyage with the McDonnell Douglas MD-90 in 1993, the Sukhoi Su-25 in 1975, the Convair R3Y Tradewind in 1954, and the de Havilland DH.60 Moth in 1925.  This was also the date of the launch of OPS 5111, a name you may not recognize but would now find it hard to live without.  OPS 5111, also known as NAVSTAR-1, was the first satellite launched as part of the Global Positioning System on February 22, 1978