MIAMI — Delta Air Lines has extended its order book from 75 to 90 Airbus A220 aircraft today. The order now consists of 40 A220-100s and 50 A220-300s.

To date, Delta has taken delivery of four A220-100 aircraft, all of which are performing route proving and training flights to meet the certification and entry into service (EIS) requirements mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Photo: Benjamin Bearup

“These additional A220 aircraft will continue to strategically enable Delta to refresh our fleet, drive further advances in the customer experience and serve as an excellent investment for our customers, employees and shareowners for Delta into the next decade,” said Gil West, Delta’s Chief Operating Officer.

West added that his team is looking forward to taking delivery of the first A220-300 in 2020 straight from the Airbus assembly line in Mobile, Alabama.

All the 90 Airbus A220s are expected to join the fleet by the end of 2023.

Entry Into Service In Jeopardy

Back in October, Delta took delivery of its long-awaited Airbus A220-100, formerly known as Bombardier CSeries CS100.

With this delivery, Delta became the first airline in America to operate the Canadian-manufactured plane after a long battle against Boeing.

The airline said it expected to bring the A220 into service in January 2019, joining airBaltic, Swiss, and Korean Air as the other three operators of the aircraft type.

A few days after taking delivery of the plane Delta published its initial Airbus A220 routes, launching on January 31, 2019, out of its initial base of New York-La Guardia (LGA) to Boston-Logan (BOS) and Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW).

“We have big plans for our A220 fleet and are confident that Delta customers and Delta people alike will be delighted with the in-flight experience provided by this thoroughly modern and efficient aircraft,” said Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, at the time of the delivery.

The EIS of Delta’s newest narrow body aircraft, however, may not happen as scheduled on January 31.

The current US Government shut down could impact Delta’s plans to launch the A220 on its two inaugural flights to Boston and Dallas.

Sources tell Airways that even though the airline has taken delivery of four A220s (Ships 8101, 8102, 8203, and 8104), the lack of FAA inspectors available to sign off the airline’s 100-hour flight proving runs might delay the aircraft’s EIS.

“During proving run flights, the operator must comply with all applicable FAA regulations. These may include flight and duty time, rest times,” sources tell Airways.

Current FAA inspectors have been furloughed because of the government shut down, therefore reducing the number of active inspectors to meet Delta’s proving run schedules. As a result, the A220’s EIS is very much at risk.

Reportedly, Delta might have drafted a waiver request asking the FAA to reduce the proving run hours. However, such waivers had never been approved before, so the likelihood of succeeding is very low.

Airways will keep an eye on further developments on the Delta Airbus A220 EIS.