Airbus A321XLR flies for over 13 hours

Ultra-long-range test aircraft will be able to fly at distances of up to 4,700 nm and is expected to enter service in 2024

The Airbus A321XLR proved this week what it is capable of. The ultra-long-range version of the A320neo family performed an emblematic flight across Europe that lasted 13 hours and 15 minutes.

The registration F-WXLR prototype, the first to fly in June, took off from Toulouse in southern France towards Ireland, from there it made a right turn towards Norway and then headed south past through Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Italy before flying over Sicily. In the last leg, it passed by the island of Sardinia and then landed at the Airbus headquarters.

On the way, there was still time to draw the letters “XLR” over the coast of France and thus make a “wave” to the fans who follow the aircraft on the ADS-B tracking sites.

Widebody replacement

Launched in June 2019, the A321XLR is a unique aircraft in the world. Thanks to a more modern design than the rival Boeing 737, the Airbus aircraft can accommodate an extra tank in the fuselage without losing capacity and thus providing an unbeatable advantage in terms of autonomy.

A321XLR first flight (Airbus)

There are 4,700 nm (8,700 km) of range, which will allow the aircraft to take routes currently only possible by expensive and heavy widebodies.

To date, Airbus has more than 500 firm orders for the variant and expects to deliver the first A321XLR in the second quarter of 2024 after development delays pushed the date back by a year.

The company will still need to meet safety requirements related to fire hazards in the fuel tank located just below the passenger cabin, which was requested by the US civil aviation agency FAA.

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