Airbus took a step forward on the Airbus A320 program, with the first flight of the Airbus A321LR, a long-range version of Airbus’s best selling single-aisle jet. As per Airbus, the plane is the world’s longest-range single-aisle aircraft, is capable of flying 4000 nautical miles when configured with 206 seats, which should be good for a transatlantic flight.
The Airbus A321LR is a reconfigured version of the A321neo, which is capable of carrying up to 240 people in a single class. The test flight took off from the Hamburg factory of Airbus today. The plane was powered by the CFM LEAP-1A engine. The new variant has an increased MTOW of 97 tonnes, an additional centre fuel tank, and a different door configuration than the earlier A321, which should allow for more passengers to be seated in the cabin.
As per Airbus, the A321LR is going to be a contender to replace Boeing 757s which are closer to retirement. The Boeing 757s are at a range of 3915 nautical miles with 228 passengers.
Boeing is studying if they want to launch the Boeing 797 (their middle-of-the-market plane) to replace the 757, but that is not a done deal yet. Boeing is looking at an aircraft with up to 270 seats, which would be a new plane altogether rather than a variation of the earlier planes.
Overall, the A321LR will have a 100 test flights to gain EASA and FAA accreditation. Certification is intended to be completed within the first half of this year, and entry into service by the end of 2018.