While Boeing delayed the possible launch of the long-awaited NMA project, also called the 797, Airbus can take the lead and make official the launch of the narrowbody’s long-range A321XLR.
According to Reuters, Airbus is preparing to announce the launch of the new aircraft during the Paris Air Show in June. With autonomy of up to 10 hours, the twin engine will be able to operate on several intercontinental routes with a very low cost per seat, a magic word for airlines.
To enable the launch of the new version, Airbus would be in close discussions with airlines to ensure a sufficient number of orders, around 200-300 units.
The optimism of the European manufacturer came after the good debut of the A321LR, which today has the longest range for a narrowbody. If the information is confirmed, it will be a blow to Boeing, who tries to freeze a viable configuration for its NMA, an airplane described as a small widebody, capable of occupying the niche between the 737 MAX 10 and 787-8.
However, Boeing “797” still has to overcome a number of challenges to become a reality, among them, to have a lower development and production cost so as not to raise its price to a level where its alleged operating advantages are nullified.
For Airbus, the situation is more comfortable. The A320 family features a wider fuselage section and higher landing gear that allows for larger configurations. For this reason, the A321XLR will require few changes such as a reinforced landing gear and an extra fuel tank in the center of the fuselage.
With these changes, the new airliner will take off with a maximum weight of more than 100 tons and can fly up to 5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km).
The announcement should not be surprising since Airbus had revealed intention to launch it in November of last year when it recruited new engineers and designers to participate not only in this project but also the new A320 family and advanced versions of the A350. It’s better for Boeing to hurry…