Airbus is preparing to launch the A321XLR at the Paris Air Show, which starts on June 17. The information was revealed by The Air Current website according to four sources. The new long-range variant of the single-aisle jet will be able to fly more than 4,000 nautical miles (more than 7,400 km), according to people involved in the project.
The European manufacturer is expected to reveal several customers of the new jet, including at least one US airline. Most quoted are JetBlue, which has already revealed its interest, and American Airlines, which said in recent days that the A321XLR could replace its Boeing 757.
In addition to new orders, Airbus will announce the conversion of aircraft already ordered. According to sources, the company is expected to raise the maximum takeoff weight of the jet to 103 tons to enable it to be able to carry 240 passengers on flights from coast to coast in the US.
Threat to the NMA
The rush to launch the A321XLR would be an Airbus strategy to discourage Boeing from launching the NMA, commonly called the 797. The new wide body was being studied for some time and could be announced at Le Bourget, however, the planemaker would have postponed a decision by 2020, given the project’s various implications.
Unlike the A321XLR, the NMA will be a completely new airplane that would create an unprecedented segment in commercial aviation. From the little information available, the jet would have two variants, one long range and one large passenger capacity. Its fuselage section would be able to offer several configurations with one or two aisles.
Boeing’s dilemma lies in the high cost of the project in the face of unclear demand. For this reason, Airbus’s move with the A321XLR can further reduce the possibilities of the new jet.
With the confirmation of the long-range A321 at least one of the chess pieces will have moved. The next move should be from Boeing.