Integral airstairs are the steps that pop out from under a plane’s doorway to let everyone off at some airports. You have likely experienced these if you have flown on a Boeing 737, as airlines like Ryanair use them all the time.
They are not common at all on the Airbus A320 series of aircraft. In fact, it was long rumoured that none of the airlines using the Airbus A320-100 had ever asked for them to be installed.
Integral Airstairs on the A320
It turns out that one of the launch customers for the Airbus A320 did in fact ask for these stairs. That airline was British Caledonian, which was in financial difficulty by the late 1980s and accepted a takeover offer from British Airways in December 1987. The story goes that BA did not want the A320 and tried to cancel the planes on order, but they were unable to do so.
The first one was accepted by BCal before the takeover finalised and there was a stoush over the livery. Apparently BA expected the second aircraft onwards to be re-painted in their livery by Airbus, whereas the manufacturer wanted to be paid to do that.
Anyway, the original five A320-111s featured the integral airstairs and from the pictures below, we can deduce two things. First, they were installed and actually used in service. Second, they seem to have been around for a while.
The aircraft were delivered in 1988 and 1989 and still had the stairs when the livery was changed to the current one from 1999. Eventually they were withdrawn from service between late 2006 and early 2008. Whether the stairs stayed until the end or not is unknown, but they were there at least 11 years.
British Airways had integral airstairs on their Airbus A320-111 fleet for a number of years. How often they were used in service is not really known.
Judging by the pictures, they look fairly steep. The A320 sits much higher off the ground when compared to the Boeing 737, so perhaps they were only used when it was absolutely necessary.
Did you know the BA A320 had integral airstairs? Do you know anymore about the story? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.