Airbus today achieved the first flight of the A321XLR airliner it aims to bring to market in early 2024. The new narrowbody is expected to be able to serve routes of up to 4,700 nm as the European manufacturer seeks to meet airline demand for greater payload and range from a single-aisle airframe.
After taking off from Hamburg’s Finkenwerder Airport at 11.05 a.m. local time, the MSN 11000 prototype flew for 4 hours and 35 minutes. During the sortie, test pilots and engineers evaluated the A321XLR’s flight controls and its CFM International Leap 1A engines, as well as testing flight envelope protections at high and low speeds.
According to Airbus, the A321XLR will operate with 30 percent lower fuel consumption than previous-generation narrowbody airliners, as well as reduce nitrous oxide emissions and noise. So far, 20 airlines have ordered more than 500 examples of the new model.
The A321XLR should be able to serve city pairs including London to Miami, New York to Rome, and Kuala Lumpur to Sydney. It will seat between 180 and 200 passengers.
“This is a major milestone for the A320 Family and its customers worldwide,” said Philippe Mhun, Airbus’s executive vice president for programs. “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."
The crew for the first flight was led by experimental test pilots Thierry Diez and Gabriel Diaz de Villegas Giron. They were accompanied by flight test engineers Frank Hohmeister, Philippe Pupin, and Medhi Zeddoun.