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Fri, Jun 17, 2022

Airbus A321XLR Takes Flight

New Long-Range Narrow-Body Aims for Market Niche

Airbus’s newest and largest narrow-body airliner, the A321XLR, has made its maiden flight—and in so doing moved the European air-framer closer to its goal of capitalizing on the demand for long-range, single-aisle commercial aircraft.

The aircraft, MSN 11000, departed Hamburg-Finkenwerder Airport at 09:05 UTC, and remained aloft for approximately four hours and 35 minutes.

The flight-crew tested the aircraft’s flight controls, engines, and major systems—including controversial flight-envelope protections—at both high and low speed.

Airbus VP Philippe Mhun stated: "This is a major milestone for the A320 family and its customers worldwide. With the A321XLR coming into service, airlines will be able to offer long-haul comfort on a single aisle aircraft, thanks to its unique Airspace cabin. The A321XLR will open new routes with unbeatable economics and environmental performance." Entry into service is targeted for early 2024.

Airbus aspires to offer the A321XLR to airlines looking to service thinly-flown, long-distance routes, such as Houston/Santiago, New York/Rome and Tokyo/Sydney, directly and profitably—rather than operating higher-cost, wide-body aircraft or forcing passengers to travel indirectly, via wide-body hubs.

The consortium asserts the A321XLR‘s range exceeds that of rival aircraft by as much as fifteen-percent. Such endurance is made possible by the addition of a new, rear-center fuel-tank molded into the model’s lower fuselage.

The addition of the ventral fuel-tank has prompted aviation regulatory agencies to voice concerns over the risk of fire in the event of landing-gear malfunctions or belly-landings. In light of subject concerns, Airbus has delayed the A321XLR‘s entry into commercial service pending further assessment and possible modification of the aircraft’s lower structure.



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