Guide to easily identifying different variants of the A320 aircraft

The Philippines is an Airbus country with our local airlines operating different types of Airbus jets. To the avgeek, it would be easy for them to identify every aircraft to the detail but to the regular passenger, they will all just all seem like one type of Airbus. Here, we look into how we can easily identify between the different variants of the A320 family which local airlines presently operate.

Photo credits: Gary Sato

Philippine based airlines basically operate three basic variations of the A320 family which are the A319, the A320, and A321. Each also have different types of variants example, the A321 has an A321-200CEO for Current Engine Option and an A321-200NEO for New Engine Option. This is the same for the A320 which have both an A320CEO and A320NEO version. Both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific operate the A321CEO but they are different in terms of engines. We now look into identifying these jets without having to ask anyone or check the fuselage.

Airbus A319 vs A320 vs A321

Airbus A319-100. (Photo credits: Dirk Salcedo @ Planespotters)

Airbus A320-200. (Photo credits: Wikipedia)
Airbus A321-200. (Photo: Jetphotos)

The most obvious difference among the three are their length. The Airbus A319 is the shortest, the A320 is the one in the middle, and the A321 is the longest. If you want to easily identify them, check their length.

Another way of identifying them is by knowing which airline operates which. Royal Air operates A319s and an A320, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, and Pan Pacific operates A320s, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific operates A321s. So if you will see a Royal Air Airbus, that can either be an A319 or A320.

A320CEO vs A320NEO

Airbus A320 CEO. (Photo: Xfw-Spotter)

Airbus A320 NEO. (Photo: Eurospot)
Cebu Pacific operates two types of A320 which are the A320NEO and A320CEO. The most obvious difference between the two are the engines and you will notice that their sizes are different. The size of the engine of a NEO is way large than that of the CEO if you will compare both upper and lower photo. Look at the cowling closely and you will even notice that their shape are different from each other.

PAL A321CEO vs Cebu Pacific A321CEO

PAL A321 CEO. (Photo: Xfw-Spotter)
Cebu Pacific A321 CEO (Photo: Xfw-Spotter)
The difference between the two are again, the engines. Philippine Airlines's A321CEO uses IAE V2533 engines whereas Cebu Pacific uses CFM56. You will be able to easily identify by checking the engines alone. The difference is pretty much obvious.

A321NEO and A321CEO

A321NEO. (Photo: Xfw-Spotter)
A321CEO. (Photo: Xfw-Spotter)
Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific uses two variants of the A320 family namely the A321NEO and A321CEO. Best way to identify between both are the engines. Both PAL and Cebu Pacific A321NEO makes use of the same PW1100G engines, hence, the common shape of the engine cowling. Philippine Airlines also has two versions of their A321NEO which we will discuss in another article.

A321NEO ACF. (Photo: Xfw-Spotter)
A321CEO. (Photo: Xfw-Spotter)
Aside from the engines, another difference between the Cebu Pacific A321NEO and CEO are the exit doors. The A321NEO of Cebu Pacific does not have a door 2 (second door from the nose), but instead, has two overwing exit doors. The A321CEO of Cebu Pacific has a door 2.

We can discuss more differences like A321-271N vs A321-251N, and A321-271NX vs A321-271N but we shall discuss this in another topic. We hope this helps you identify between each Airbus A320 family variants that our local airlines use.

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