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Airbus’ Longest-Range, Fuel-Efficient Aircraft Is Gearing up for Its First Flight

Fuel efficiency and fewer carbon emissions are certainly one of the main trends for next-generation airliners. But another important goal is increasing global connectivity, thanks to an extended range that will allow future aircraft to link parts of the world that are far away from each other faster and easier. A321XLR, the Airbus next-generation aircraft, promises all of that.
The A321XLR is an Xtra Large Range aircraft set to start operations next year 9 photos
The A321XLR is undergoing ground-based testsThe A321XLR is undergoing ground-based testsThe A321XLR is undergoing ground-based testsThe A321XLR is undergoing ground-based testsThe A321XLR is undergoing ground-based testsThe A321XLR is undergoing ground-based testsThe A321XLR is undergoing ground-based testsThe A321XLR is undergoing ground-based tests
Last year, Airbus kicked off the assembly process for the A321XLR, a modified version of the already popular A320 neo. As its name suggests, its main goal is to offer an Xtra Long Range of up to 4,700 nautical miles (5,408 miles/8,704 km). This means that it will be capable of conducting flights on routes that were considered challenging until now, such as India-Europe or China-Australia.

Plus, it will do so while burning 30% less fuel per seat compared to the aircraft in the previous generation. Another one of its innovations is the Rear Center Tank (RCT) which is permanent and can hold more fuel while also taking less space than the multiple optional Additional Center Tanks that were used before.

The first three A321XLR flight-test aircraft are being completed in Hamburg, Germany. Before the first one takes to the sky, several ground-based testing campaigns must be conducted. The Virtual First Flight (VFF) uses a dedicated simulator in collaboration with an avionics testing laboratory in Toulouse, France.

Unlike full-flight simulators that move on hydraulic jacks, this development simulator is fixed but equipped with real pilot controls and displays. During the VFF campaign, the test pilots and engineers sitting in the simulator will rehearse a series of operations as if they were in a real aircraft. This will be an important step toward obtaining certification.

With commercial operations set to begin by 2023, the A321XLR is getting closer to its first test flight after it successfully completes all the ground-based testing campaigns.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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