Did you know that the Airbus A318 has a taller vertical stabilizer than the A319? And that there is a completely different engine option as well? I didn’t either until the evening I sat down to modify my A319 template into this cute little baby bus. The heartburn started heating up after just 30 seconds on Wikipedia, realizing that this one-evening hack job was going to take a lot longer than planned. I hate when that happens, especially when I’ve got so many other airliner templates on my to-do list.
And it wasn’t the taller vertical stabilizer and different engine option that made me reach for the Tums – it turns out that there are a lot of little differences in the engine coverings (for both the CFM56 and Pratt & Whitney options) compared to the A319, and it ended up being faster for me to redraw them from scratch rather than mess around trying to modify the other ones. Oh – and let’s not forget about the details in the engine connection to the wing as well. This ended up being one of those templates that seemed to get more and more complicated the deeper I got into it, and I was kind of regretting taking it on at first.
But you know what? Although it sounds like I’m complaining, the truth is that I’m actually pretty stoked that I learned that the A318 is a lot more than just an A319 with the ends chopped off. There is a lot more that went into the design and engineering of this aircraft than I originally thought, so it’s it’s kind of a shame that it was essentially a failure for Airbus (from a sales and marketing point of view). As a designer myself, I know exactly how demoralizing that can feel. Sometimes the projects I spend the most time on are the biggest failures. It happens, and all you can do is push it aside and move on to the next one.
The Airbus A318 was produced from 2001 through 2013, with only four Airlines operating them at the time of this writing (Air France, Avianca Brasil, Avianca, and TAROM). They never gained traction in the US, and the only ones I ever saw buzzing about were here in Southern California. Frontier Airlines had a handful of them, and occasionally I’d see them operating between DEN and SAN. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to get a ride on one, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t missing much. I can’t imagine it being much more than a fat regional jet anyway, and I’m not a big fan of small airplanes.
On the other hand, the traveler in me is slightly bothered by the fact that this is an active aircraft in regularly scheduled service that is deeply established as an “endangered species” – and time is running out if I want to add the experience to my personal flight log. I’ve been wanting to take a trip to South America soon, so perhaps it would be wise to see if I can hitch a ride with Avianca. Just to say I did it.
Anyway, it feels great to have finished these A318 templates, as that means that I now have the complete Airbus A320 family in my archives (all the way up to the latest and greatest NEO). I can’t help but to hope that these won’t be a flop like the real A318 though…
Next up is the McDonnell Douglas MD-90. A quick check of Wikipedia reveals that the only major visual differences between it and the MD-80 is a slightly lengthened fuselage and (of course) larger engines. As long as there are no surprises, I should be able to crank it out relatively quickly. I am traveling to China next week though, so there will be a slight pause in the action. In the meantime, feel free to tinker with any of my other templates while I’m away, and I’ll get that MD-90 wrapped up as soon as I return!