Initially reported by Jon Ostrower from The Air Current who secured four sources familiar with the matter, Airbus is set to launch the aircraft with a mixture of new commitments, including from one U.S. based airline, and conversions from other aircraft from existing customers.
During my time at the 2019 Airbus Innovation Days in May, questions around the A321XLR or a longer range A321 to compete with Boeing’s NMA study occasionally flew towards Airbus executives, however were returned with limited answers.
Although Airbus hasn’t listed any technical specifications for the proposed aircraft, the maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) is slated to be 101-103t compared to the 97t of the A321LR.
Paired with reinforced landing gear, an enlarged center fuel tank and the rumored wing upgrade, the aircraft is believed to have a range of 4500-4700 nautical miles carrying 206-220 passengers.
Additionally, Flight Global reports Airbus might step away from the conventional A320 Family cockpit and incorporate the latest technology found on the A350 XWB.
The amount of media attention the proposed jet is receiving isn’t surprising given the thoughts airlines are expressing on the type. Here are some airlines expressing interesting in the upgraded model:
- American Airlines
- United Airlines
- Jetstar Australia
- Indigo Partners
What stands out is the tier of potential customers involved. None of these airlines/equity firms are small players. Airbus plans to launch the jet with 300 commitments for the type so if these are the airlines potentially involved, Airbus is in for a good show.
As Boeing continues to battle their 737 MAX woes, their show is likely to be an effort to rebuild public trust and ensure their customers stick with their aircraft, with a slide of widebody announcements.
However, regarding the A321XLR, the hopeful announcement of the NMA or Boeing “797” is now unlikely as the manufacturer continues to study a market case and focus resources where needed.
Though with all this attention from critical airlines from all over the world, will Boeing end up in the position they were in a few years ago where the A320neo launch absolutely shredded them, forcing them to build the 737 MAX? Will Boeing be forced to commit to a new aircraft? Will it be too late?
These are all questions that will be answered during the 2019 Paris Airshow and the future announcements tied to the show.
All Paris Airshow announcements will be covered on this blog and its associated social media! Ensure you stick around to stay up to date!