Airbus has reached an important milestone in the timeline of the long-awaited A321XLR, the ultra-long range variant of the A320 family. The Nantes unit completed the assembly of the aircraft’s central structure, called the Center Wing Box (CWB) and which is one of the major component of the plane.
The huge part will be delivered by Beluga to the Hamburg site where it will be used for structural production tests. According to Airbus, the CWB will be integrated together with Section 15 (the RCT Flange-Module) into the front part of the Center-Aft-Fuselage (CAF).
Nantes is already in the process of assembling two more similar structures that will be used by flight test aircraft. By the end of the year, the facility will start producing components for the first series airplanes, said the planemaker.
“The CWB is always the first major component on each new aircraft development to be produced so we must mature its design very early and manage its interdependencies with fuel systems, load calculations, as well as physical interfaces to the airframe aerostructure components developed in France, Germany and the UK,” explained Yannick Valette and Richard Hue, CWB Project leaders.
According to Airbus, the Center Wing Box of the A321XLR received structural reinforcements to support the extra weight of the aircraft, as well as components of the fuel system for the new Rear Center Tank (RCT), which will allow to carry almost 13,000 liters more jet fuel.
Thanks to its immense range of 4,700 nm (8,700 km), the A321XLR has collected several orders and is expected to enter service in 2023.