The Airbus A321 XLR performs its first test flight

The Airbus A321 XLR performs its first test flight

HAMBURG (Reuters) – Airbus kicked off the maiden flight of its largest and newest narrow-body jetliner, the A321 XLR, on Wednesday as the aerospace group seeks to tap into lucrative demand for single-aisle jets for airliners. long-haul flights.

The manufacturer’s latest took off at 11:05 a.m. from a factory in Hamburg, Germany, and is expected to enter service in 2024.

Airbus is touting the A321 XLR as a game-changing model among its fleet of narrow-body aircraft, allowing airlines to cost-effectively serve low-traffic long-haul routes, rather than forcing passengers to fly through large aircraft hubs.

The aircraft can travel 8,700 km, or 15% more than its most efficient current single-aisle, which could allow airlines to provide routes such as Houston-Santiago, New York-Rome or Tokyo-Sydney without having to bear the cost of a large jet.

The extra range is made possible by the addition of a new rear center fuel tank, molded into the lower fuselage.

Airbus must, however, face questions from regulators about the risk of fire linked to this new tank and has been forced to delay the entry into service of the aircraft by at least three months, until the beginning of 2024, to allow modification of its lower structure.

(Reporting Jan Schwartz, written by Tim Hepher, French version Elena Vardon, editing by Kate Entringer)

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