The Airbus A320 is a short to medium range commercial passenger aircraft manufactured by Airbus Industrie. It is the best-selling passenger aircraft in the world at present, and was the first airliner with a fly-by-wire flight control system, where the pilot controls flight surfaces through the use of electronic signals rather than mechanically with pulleys and hydraulic systems.
British Midland Airbus A320
Swiss International Airlines Airbus A319.
This picture is not to scale with the British Midland A320 picture above. The A320 is 123 feet 3 inches long (37.57 metres), the A319 is shorter at 111 feet (33.84 metres).
The A320 has given rise to a family of aircraft which share a common design but are a little smaller - the Airbus A319 or a lot smaller - the Airbus A318 or a little larger - the Airbus A321. Technically, the name "A320" only refers to the original mid-sized aircraft, but it is often informally used to indicate any of the A318/A319/A320/A321 family.
The A320 first flew in 1984 and was commercially launched in 1988 and, unlike the earlier Airbus A300, sold strongly from the outset. Although it has been the fastest-selling airliner in the world for several years, the competition remains close. With almost 3000 sales in total, however, it has a long way to go to match its arch rival the Boeing 737 (which is the best selling airliner of all time, with over 5000 sold).