The test A321XLR with registration F-WWAB took off on Wednesday, September 13, from Toulouse, France, for a 10-day world tour aimed at demonstrating the aircraft’s long-duration flight capabilities.
In this mission, which the company calls “Route Proving”, the narrow-body jet must complete 100 hours of flight time passing through several cities around the world.
According to the manufacturer, the test will involve 15 flights in which the A321XLR must simulate short and long-distance air operations, on trips lasting up to 11 hours.
This tour of different countries will count as one of the final steps in the certification process for the aircraft, which is scheduled to enter commercial service in the second quarter of 2024.
The A321XLR tour can be followed on FlightRadar24. Airbus also created a website dedicated to the mission.
According to the planemaker, the ‘MSN 11080′ test aircraft will make a series of round-trip flights to Toulouse, Airbus’ headquarters, one of them heading to the North Pole.
On other occasions, the A321XLR will circulate around Europe and in the final phase it will fly to an airport in the USA to evaluate transatlantic operations.
On its debut flight, the aircraft went to Spain, crossed Portugal from north to south, returned to Spain, crossed part of the Mediterranean Sea to Italy, where it turned north to the Venice region. From there the A321XLR returned to Toulouse, on a flight of 6 hours and 45 minutes.
The F-WWAB registration A321XLR is one of three prototypes of the variant and the only one equipped with a full cabin interior. The jet also uses Leap-1 engines, supplied by CFM.
Single-aisle jet for long-haul flights
Launched at the 2019 Paris Air Show, the A321XLR is an aircraft with the potential to revolutionize long-haul travel. Equipped with an additional fuel tank, the single-aisle aircraft promises a flight range in the range of 4,700 nautical miles (8,700 km), a range currently only possible with large commercial jets.
Offering good performance numbers, the aircraft is already a sales success even before its official debut. Since the launch of the program, Airbus has received more than 500 orders for the aircraft.