Having established the company’s capabilities with widebody aircraft, Airbus next focused on the single-aisle market with the A320 Family. Building on innovations in the A300 Family that saw the introduction of electrical signalling on secondary flight controls, Airbus sought to further replace the web of cables and pulleys in an aircraft’s flight control system. Enter the computer-controlled digital fly-by-wire system pioneered by Airbus: no longer mechanically driven, the flight control surfaces were now linked to computers that made the aircraft respond as the pilot commanded. In place of the pilot’s control column was a simple sidestick control, which became another staple of Airbus design.
These fly-by-wire controls – the first to be used in a civil aircraft – brought improved handling, enhanced safety, reduced weight, and operational commonality to the company’s range of aircraft, and are now commonly used in the commercial airliners. No matter how one aircraft varies in size or weight from another, fly-by-wire commonality allows the pilot to fly them in the same way because the computer drives the aircraft’s flight controls. The result is a dramatic reduction in the time and cost required to train pilots and crews across the Airbus product line of fly-by-wire jetliners.
Today, the single-aisle A320 Family is the most successful and versatile jetliner family ever. Building on the concept of commonality that Airbus championed, the family can be thought of as one aircraft in four sizes – the A318, A319, A320 and A321.
Source : Airbus Website