As the industry eagerly awaits for an update on Boeing’s new 797 mid-range aircraft or NMA at the upcoming Paris Air Show 2019, Airbus may have something more substantial up its sleeve. According to various sources, the European plane maker is likely to launch an extra long-range variant of its A321 family of aircraft, the A321XLR, which would be a direct competitor to the Boeing 797.
Autonomous and electric flight are generally expected to take the center-stage at this year’s biggest aerospace event, which kicks-off on Monday, June 17. Airbus states it “will present a broad portfolio of innovative products, technologies and services which meet the aerospace industry’s requirements for today and into the future”.
But when it comes to securing deals, both Boeing and Airbus, which have been suffering a troubling order slowdown, may have to rely on their more traditional aircraft.
It seems no one is expecting any big surprises when it comes to new aircraft unveilings at the airshow. Airbus’ daily flying display will showcase its “long-range leaders” including the A350-1000 and the A330neo; towards the end of the airshow, a Hi-Fly A380 will also be in the flying display.
Rumors have been swirling, however, that the plane maker is likely to unveil an extra long-range variant of its A321 model, the A321XLR. That would make sense, since up till now, the company’s main “long-range leader” has been the A321LR.
The A321LR is a long-haul variant of the Airbus’ A321neo. The “LR” stands for “Long Range”, since the airliner has the longest range of any single-aisle jetliner and is well-suited to transatlantic routes: the A321LR can fly routes of up to 4,000 nm (7,400 km) carrying 206 passengers while utilizing extra fuel stored in three Additional Centre Tanks (ACTs).
The A321LR’s long-range capability was certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in October 2018. Only a month later, the first A321LR aircraft was delivered to launch customer Arkia Israeli Airlines.
According to Bloomberg, the new A321XLR, an extended long-range variant of the single-aisle jet, would have a higher maximum take-off weight and would be able to fly more than 4,500 nautical miles (over 8,300 km). More detailed specifications of the new aircraft have yet to be disclosed.
American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) , JetBlue Airways, India’s IndiGo, and aviation entrepreneur David Neeleman have reportedly all expressed an interest in the proposed A321XLR. The jet is scheduled to enter service in late 2023 or early 2024.