Airbus Begins Construction Of First A321XLR Rear Fuel Tank

Airbus has today shared that production of the first Rear Centre Tank (RCT) for the upcoming A321XLR has now started. This feature is a permanently installed high-capacity fuel tank, which makes maximum volumetric use of the jet’s lower fuselage.

Airbus A321XLR
Production of the A321XLR is well underway. Photo: Airbus

The next stage

The A321XLR will be the next stage of the A321neo’s evolution with a range of 4,700nm. It will also bring 30% lower fuel burn per seat than previous-generation aircraft. Despite the global health crisis rocking the aviation industry, the plane manufacturer recently affirmed that it remains on course to have the jet ready by 2023.

According to a press release seen by Simple Flying, the European outfit highlights that the RCT is unique to this variant. It is being produced to fit into the lower fuselage of the narrowbody.

“The RCT structure which is integrated in fuselage Sections 15 and 17 is located behind the main landing gear bay and holds up to 12,900 litres – which is more fuel than several optional Additional Centre Tanks (ACTs) combined could hold previously in the A321 Family,” Airbus said in the release.

“Moreover, since the RCT takes up less space in the cargo hold, it frees-up underfloor volume for additional cargo and baggage on long range routes of up to an unprecedented 4,700nm.”

American Airlines A321XLR
American Airlines is the largest customer of the Airbus A321XLR, with 50 orders placed for the jet. Photo: Airbus

Great progress

In September 2019, Airbus commissioned Premium AEROTEC to manufacture the RCT. Currently, the company is finishing the structure’s sub-assembly at its factory in Augsburg, Germany.

This process involves the production of the other RCT parts and structural assembly. Additionally, workers will be equipping systems and conduct testing before Airbus’ major component assembly (MCA) facility in Hamburg takes over in early next year. The planemaker will then integrate the tank into the aircraft’s rear fuselage.

Earlier this summer, the production of the first machined part for the tank occurred. So, Airbus and its partners are making good progress on the project. To date, 24 customers have ordered a total of over 450 units of the plane. They will undoubtedly be excited about these developments.

A321XLR First Metal Cut
Workers standing proud with the first metal cut of the Airbus A321XLR’s Rear Centre Tank. Photo: Airbus

Different product, same family

Altogether, Airbus highlights that the A321XLR is the next evolutionary step in the manufacturer’s single-aisle products. The company is designing the aircraft to maximize overall commonality with the rest of the A320neo family. However, there will be the least changes needed to give the jet the extra range. Therefore, there will be an increase in revenue payload with a familiar passenger experience.

Currently, passenger activity is at an unprecedented low. Furthermore, analysts predict that the industry will be to be performing at 2019 levels within three to five years. It will be 2023 by the time this model enters service. So, it will be ready to hit the skies just at the right time.

What are your thoughts about the Airbus A321XLR? Are you excited about this progress? Let us know what you think of this advancement in the comment section.