Airbus A321XLR Still On Track For 2023 Launch

This week, Airbus gave an update on the progress that it is making on its A321XLR program. Despite the global health crisis rocking the aviation industry, the manufacturer remains on course to have the jet ready by 2023.

Airbus A321XLR
Airbus is continuing to work hard on its A321XLR project. Photo: Airbus

The aircraft has proven to be a hit since it was announced at last year’s Paris Air Show. Altogether, 24 airlines have ordered over 450 A321XLRs. With a range of up to 4,700nm and a 30% lower fuel burn per seat compared with previous-generation competitors, carriers are flocking to the jet to tackle several of their routes.

In a news update on its website, the European outfit shared that at the beginning of the year, the first long-lead components for the initial flight-test aircraft were already in production. These parts include the main landing gear forgings and the first parts for the center wingbox.

Last month, the company confirmed the suppliers for the major components for the narrowbody. Airbus had specially selected the below firms:

  • Spirit AeroSystems (inboard single-slotted flap)
  • Diehl Aviation (potable water & water waste systems)
  • FACC (modified belly fairing)
  • Premium Aerotec (rear-center fuel tank primary structure)
  • Collins Aerospace (fuel system)
  • Parker Aerospace (fuel tank inerting system)
  • Vincorion (heated floor panels)
  • Safran (main and nose landing gear)
  • Triumph Group (landing gear uplock mechanism).
A321XLR Metal Cut
The first A321XLR metal cut at Airbus’ facility in Nantes. Photo: Airbus

Hi-tech approach

Airbus will heavily rely on modern technology to help during the next stage of production. Digital services will play a huge part in completing the project.

“In anticipation of the industrialisation phase, where relevant, the programme is applying Airbus’ new “digital design, manufacturing and services” (DDMS) product lifecycle approach. This enables accurate virtual factory simulations to validate investments and ramp-up planning,” Airbus said on its website.

“A key pillar of the DDMS framework is the 3D “Digital Mock-up Unit” (DMU) database, which will allow concurrent design, assembly simulations, and real-time 3D visibility across the transnational co-design plateaus at Toulouse, Hamburg and Filton.”

Additionally, the program brings the advantages of 3D visualization to the non-engineering community, including managers who can now work in 3D thanks to new viewer tools.

American A321XLR
American Airlines is one of the A321XLR’s largest customers. Photo: Airbus

Still on course

Altogether, despite being forced to halt production at several of its sites over the last few weeks, the firm is not showing any signs of slowing down the completion of the A321XLR. Once the downturn in passenger activity is over, carriers will be eager to get their services going once again. Therefore, the jet should be ready just in time for when operations are stronger again.

Simple Flying reached out to Airbus for comment on the A321XLR delivery schedule. A spokesperson confirmed that the aircraft will still hit the market in 2023. 

What are your thoughts about Airbus’ update on the aircraft’s progress? Will the firm will be able to continue to meet its deadlines throughout the year? Let us know what you think in the comment section.