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Airbus A321XLR completes first flight

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Airbus moved one step closer to its long-range goals yesterday as the A321XLR made its first flight from Hamburg. The longest range member of the A320-family, Airbus says the aircraft will be able to fly 4,700 nautical miles (8,700 km), a 15% improvement on the range of the A321LR now in service. The extended range opens up city pairs like Sydney-Tokyo, London-Delhi, and Buenos Aires-Miami to the narrowbody aircraft.

Airbus A321XLR first flight

The A321XLR lifted off from Hamburg’s Finkenwerder Airport at 11:04 am local time (9:04 UTC) with a crew of five, two pilots, two flight test engineers, and one test flight engineer. The aircraft spent 4 hours 34 minutes in the air, flying first over the North Sea at about 10,000 feet before turning back over land and climbing progressively higher throughout the flight.

Flight test engineer vs Test flight engineer

Learn more about the different between a Flight test engineer and a Test flight engineer, plus what it takes to be a test pilot in our AvTalk interview with Airbus Chief Test Pilot Malcolm Ridley

What’s special about the XLR?

Airbus reached the 4,700 nautical mile mark with the XLR by adding a a rear center fuel tank and optional center tank forward of the wings. They’ve almost modified the wing slightly and increased the strength of the landing gear to support a maximum takeoff weight of 101 tonnes. For comparison, the A321LR’s maximum takeoff weight is 97t.

First Delivery A321XLR Rear Center Tank
The first Rear Centre Tank for the A321XLR is delivered to Airbus. Photo courtesy Airbus - © Stefan Kruijer

Who wants the A321XLR?

A321XLR First flight - air to air

The A321XLR has over 500 orders from more than 20 customers, including mainline and low cost carriers around the world. In its most dense configuration, the aircraft will be able to carry nearly 250 passengers. After the certification, which is expected next year, the aircraft will first enter service with Middle East Airlines.

A321XLR frequently asked questions

To follow A321XLR test aircraft F-WXLR you can search for the registration on our map page or take a closer look at our F-WXLR dedicate aircraft page here >>

So far American Airlines, United Airlines, Qantas, AirAsia X, Wizz Air, Air Arabia, VietJet, Frontier, JetBlue, SKY Airline, JetSMART, Cebu Pacific, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Czech Airlines have orders confirmed.

The current timeline suggests that entry into service with Middle East Airlines is now likely to be Q2 2024.

Currently low-cost Indian airline IndiGo is due to be the largest operator of the A321XLR with 69 orders placed for the aircraft.

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