The Airbus A321LR is moving closer to starting operations with launch customers after being certified by EASA and the FAA to operate with up to three underfloor additional tanks.
The manufacturer said the long-range version of the A321neo was now certified for up to three Additional Centre Tanks (ACTs) as well as for ETOPS (extended range) operation, paving the way for customers to start long-range operations with the aircraft.
This latest milestone, it added, is one of various A321neo capability options that, when combined, will allow the A321LR to fly up to 4,000nm with 206 passengers with extra fuel stored in the three ACTs, including on ETOPS routes. The ETOPS authorisation also enables up to 180 minutes single-engine diversion time, which is sufficient for performing any transatlantic route.
The A321LR’s certification includes: approval of the “major change” to install up to three optional ACTs in the A321neo, with their 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 with new door arrangements together with a higher Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) capability of up to 97 metric tonnes. Airbus noted that only A321neos that have the new ACF structure can offer the 97t MTOW and the ability to install three ACTs. Previously, the A321 family could accommodate up to two ACTs.
While the ACF configuration will become standard for all new delivered A321neos from around 2020, the 97t MTOW capability and the ability to carry up to three ACTs will be options, it said. For the ACTs, customers would specify prior to aircraft manufacture whether the aircraft is to be equipped with an expanded fuel management system as well as the necessary structural reinforcements to secure the underfloor ACTs.