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Airbus A321XLR takes flight

Aviation Updates Philippines – The first prototype of the Airbus A321XLR (Xtra Long Range) successfully performed its first flight on Wednesday, ushering in a new era of more fuel-efficient, twin-engine long-haul flights.

The Airbus A321XLR in flight for the first time. Photo from Airbus.

The test flight, bearing the callsign AIBXLR, departed from Airbus Hamburg-Finkenwerder Airport in Germany at around 11:04 am (UTC +2) with much fanfare from aviation enthusiasts. After a four-and-a-half-hour test flight, MSN 11000 landed in Hamburg at around 3:39 pm (UTC +2).

According to a press release from Airbus, the aircraft's crew consisted of experimental test pilots Thierry Diez and Gabriel Diaz de Villegas Giron and test engineers Frank Hohmeister, Philippe Pupin and Mehdi Zeddoun.

In preparation for certifications from various aviation regulators, an aircraft's test flight allows the manufacturer to test flight controls, engines, and main systems, including flight envelope protections, both at high and low speed.

Philippe Mhun, Airbus EVP Programmes and Services stated: "This is a major milestone for the A320 Family and its customers worldwide. With the A321XLR coming into service, airlines will be able to offer long-haul comfort on a single aisle aircraft, thanks to its unique Airspace cabin. The A321XLR will open new routes with unbeatable economics and environmental performance."

The new Airbus A321XLR, a longer-range variant of the Airbus A321neo family, boasts an unprecedented single-aisle aircraft range of up to 4,700 nautical miles. The aircraft also features a 30 percent reduction in fuel consumption per seat compared to previous-generation aircraft and reduced NOx emissions and noise.

READ: Why the A321XLR could be a game-changer for Cebu Pacific

Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific placed an order for 10 Airbus A321XLR aircraft, immediately securing a slot on the day the aircraft was announced at the 2019 Paris Air Show. 

The A321XLR is expected to enter service in 2024.

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