FAA and EASA Approve A321neo For Long Range Operations

Yesterday was cause for celebration for industry giant Airbus. The European aeroplane manufacturer received certification from both the FAA and EASA for A321neo long-range flights. The news will be welcomed by A321neo customers, meaning the scope of operation of the aircraft has vastly increased.

What Does This All Mean?

The new certification means that the scope of the A321neo has got an awful lot bigger. Airbus is now able to fit three additional fuel tanks to the A321neo. While this will increase the range of the aircraft significantly, it will also act as a boon for airline customers who now have an aircraft with more capability than before.

The A321neo long-range capabilities include ETOPS certification. ETOPS stands for Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards. It may sound complicated, but this means that the aircraft can fly further from a diversion airport than non-ETOPS certified aircraft. While this may not matter so much flying over land, it is especially useful for flying long distances over water. The certification means that the aircraft is now able to fly up to 180 minutes from a diversion airport on 1 engine. All of this means that the A321neo is now more than suitable for transatlantic flights.

4,000nmi Range

Speaking about the certification, an Airbus spokesperson mentioned the additional range of the aircraft in addition to the new ETOPS authorisation:

This latest milestone is one of various A321neo capability options which when combined, allow the A321LR version to fly up to 4,000nm with 206 passengers with extra fuel stored in three ACTs, including on ETOPS routes. Moreover, the ETOPS authorisation enables up to 180 minutes single-engine diversion time, which is sufficient for performing any transatlantic route.

a321neo long-range
With the new certifications, the A321neo can now service new routes such as New York to Paris. Image: Airbus

Who Will Benefit?

One of the first carriers set to receive the new aircraft was Primera Air, who were poised to make good use of the aircraft on their transatlantic routes. However, since their sudden financial collapse, it’s not immediately clear what will become of these aircraft. In the past manufacturers have been known to aid struggling customers, however, this doesn’t appear to have happened in this case.

A321 long-range
The A321neo’s new capable range is 4,000nmi, with a max takeoff weight of 97t. Photo: Airbus

Jet Blue is looking to disrupt the transatlantic flight sector to London, and with 85 of the aircraft on order, they could be particularly positively affected by this news. Wizz Air currently has the biggest order for the A321neo with 184 aircraft expected. This is in addition to 72 A320neo aircraft. To complement this EasyJet has 30 A321neo aircraft on order alongside 100 A321neo aircraft. In contrast, some of the big national airlines have relatively few orders for the A321neo placed, with British Airways expecting 10, and fellow IAG airline Iberia expecting 4.