The A321XLR is set to be the latest entry into the A321 series and offers customers Xtra Long Range, as the name suggests. However, the pathway to certification has presented itself with more problems than the European plane maker may have wished.
Airbus initially intended the A321XLR to enter service this year, in 2023, before it was pushed back after concerns were present over the additional fuel tank and the fire risk it may hold. 2024 was therefore outlined as the new estimated entry into service date.
However, with this postponement of EIS, there were concerns about what this could do to the range, problems that have now been backed up a year on by a report from Reuters.
Reuters say that Airbus is currently in an ongoing battle with the range of its new jet being reduced. The XLR’s additional range has been made possible thanks to another fuel tank; that’s why when that tank became the focus of headlines and the delay, there were valid concerns over what this may do to the range.
According to regulators, The additional fuel tank came with a fire risk during an evacuation, so design changes needed to be made. In almost all cases, they’d reduce the range of the plane’s capability by adding more weight.
Of course, the range is the most prominent part and the reason companies have ordered this plane, and the orders indeed came in the masses, with hundreds in the first week alone at the 2019 Paris Airshow.
Industry sources of Reuters say that the reduced range, which could come in at around 200 nautical miles less than what was initially outlined, means Airbus are offering their A330neo to existing customers who may be unhappy with the changes.
How this will impact airlines relying on the aircraft’s range to fulfil operations remains to be seen.