The A321LR has moved a step closer with recent joint EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) and FAA (Federal Aviation Administration of the U.S.) approval of the aircraft to operate with up to three underfloor Additional Center Tanks (ACTs). The new airplane has been approved for Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards for 180 minutes which will allow the airplane to operate up to 3 hours from airports suitable for emergency landings.
The A321LR’s certification includes:
- Approval to install up to three ACTs in the A321neo with associated new fuel management systems and lower-fuselage structural reinforcements
- Approval of the A321neo’s “Airbus Cabin Flex” (ACF) option which incorporates a modified fuselage structure and adds four emergency exits over the wing while removes the two exits just before the engines
- Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) increased to 213,000 lbs
Existing A321neo also have the higher takeoff weight approval, feature the “Airbus Cabin Flex” structure, and have approval for additional center tanks though have approval for only two additional tanks rather than the three tanks on the new A321LR. The new ACF structure will become standard on all new A321neo delivered from 2020 onward though the increased max takeoff weight and option for up to three additional fuel tanks will be optional.
The new A321LR will be able to fly up to 4,000nm with 206 passengers and is a middle of the market aircraft that will match the capabilities of the Boeing 757-200. The airline industry is moving towards more single-aisle, extended-capacity, long-range service offering,as the technology is allowing smaller,more cost-efficient aircraft to operate routes that were almost exclusively reserved to widebodies.