With unparalleled autonomy, A321XLR performs maiden flight

Airbus aircraft took off from the Hamburg facility at 11:04 am on 15 June. Planemaker aims to certify the ultra long range variant by 2024

The first A321XLR test aircraft performed its maiden flight on Wednesday, June 15th. The Airbus aircraft took off at 11:04 am from the company’s facilities in Hamburg and remained in flight for 4 hours and 34 minutes.

According to data from FlightRadar24, the aircraft reached an altitude of 31,050 feet (9,464 m) and a speed of 236 knots (437 km/h). Registered F-WXLR, the A321XLR prototype will participate in a certification campaign that should last until 2024, the year in which Airbus expects to deliver the first aircraft.

According to Airbus, the crew carried out tests with the aircraft’s flight controls, engines and main systems, including the flight envelope protections, both at high and low speeds. A video released by the manufacturer shows pilots performing operations with the landing gear during flight.

With an unrivaled range of 4,700 nm (8,700 km), the ultra-long-range variant has already had more than 500 aircraft on order from more than 20 customers since 2019, when the program was launched.

On Twitter, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury celebrated the feat. “Fantastic day as our A321XLR takes to the air for the first time – congratulations TeamAirbus! Thanks to our customers and partners who are onboard with us making this game changing aircraft a reality,” said the chief executive.

Thanks to unparalleled performance, the A321XLR will be able to replace widebodies on long-range routes, carrying up to 244 passengers.

Airbus’ plan is to put the jet into service in early 2024, if it overcomes the technical challenges regarding the use of a new fuel tank, whose position close to the main cabin has worried EASA, the European civil aviation agency.

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