Airbus presented the first images of the A321XLR MSN11000, the first of three test aircraft of the long-range single-aisle jet variant.
According to the manufacturer, the main structural components of the aircraft were assembled in one of the four assembly lines at the plant in Hamburg, Germany. Two other A321XLRs will be used in the certification test campaign, whose maiden flight is scheduled for 2022.
To assembly the first A321XLR, Airbus joined the so-called Major Component Assemblies (MCAs) from facilities of the company. The nose and front fuselage came from Saint Nazaire (France), the wings from Broughton (United Kingdom), the landing gears were supplied by Safran, the vertical stabilizer, by Stade, and the horizontal stabilizer, by Getafe, in addition to Hamburg having mounted the center and rear fuselage.
Despite having chosen Hamburg to start the program, Airbus will extend production of the A321XLR to other locations. “For the A321 Family, we have started all the head-of-versions in Hamburg — the real first ones — and it is our intention to build these aircraft also at the other sites,” said Michael Menking, Head of the A320 Family Programme.
The most significant difference in the new version of the A321XLR is the Rear-Centre-Tank (RCT), which accommodates 12,900 liters of extra fuel and is responsible for the record range of 4,700 nm (8,700 km).
From now on, the MSN11000 aircraft will receive the installation of flight test instrumentation and CFM Leap engines and their nacelles. The turbofans will then be tested as well as the landing gear retraction mechanisms, followed by an aircraft quality inspection.
Finally, the first A321XLR will receive its external paint scheme and will be sent to the flight test team, which will initiate an entire ground check process involving the flight controls, APU, engines and other systems.
Airbus plans to put the A321XLR into service from 2023.