Airbus readies A321XLR for service entry


Airbus is in the final stages of certifying its new A321XLR aircraft as it prepares for entry into service with launch operators in 2024. The extended-range single-aisle jet has been undergoing an extensive flight-test campaign, including recent route-proving flights with airlines.

As the European planemaker aims for a smooth service introduction, its focus has turned to ensuring operators have the necessary technical documentation, strategic spares positioning and expert support from day one.

“During the last four years, teams from Airbus’ Customer Services department have been implanted into the A321XLR development team to ensure that all in-service feedback is embedded in the aircraft design,” Airbus said.

A key challenge has been compiling the comprehensive “Instructions for Continued Airworthiness” documentation required for type certification. While the A321XLR shares many components with the existing A320 family, its new design elements like the rear center fuel tank require fresh technical documentation.

“Design changes have been introduced with the A321XLR to enhance its long-range capabilities,” Airbus said. This includes elements like new landing gears, wing flaps and an extended belly fairing to protect the fuel tank.

Airbus has updated areas like the structural repair manual to account for the belly fairing’s new safety role on the XLR versus the standard A321neo. Parts may require replacement rather than repair if damaged.

To support entry into service, Airbus is strategically positioning spares like the belly fairing across its global logistics network. It will also embed technical specialists from its development team at launch operators for about six months.

“Airbus will maintain a ‘continuity of experience’ in the support team…since they will be recruited from the same teams who had previously covered the development phase,” the company said.

With certification targeted for 2024, the European planemaker aims to ensure the A321XLR’s longest-range single-aisle introduction is as seamless as possible for airlines.

Iberia is set to become the first Airbus A321XLR operator once it enters service after summer 2024.

Dirk Andrei Salcedo Avatar

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