Airbus’ Ongoing A321XLR Route Proving Campaign

It hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing for the Airbus A321XLR development. Issues with the removable center fuel tank have put at risk one of the plane’s main selling points, its extreme range for a narrow body single aisle plane. EASA has demanded that extra safety measure are taken to protect passengers and crew in the unlikely event of a fire. Therefore first deliveries might slide into 2024, later than anticipated, in order to find a solution that safeguards the 8700km range promised. Nonetheless Airbus has embarked on a route proving campaign to demonstrate the A321XLR capabilities. Here’s what Airbus has done.

The A321XLR Route Proving Campaign

In order to demonstrate the features and capabilities of what could be a revolutionary plane, Airbus has embarked on a route proving campaign. What this endeavour consist of is a series of test flights that put the plane to the test in a number of different environments and situations.

The aircraft chosen was the QR Code promotional livery one which over 10 days is flying across Europe and beyond the continent’s borders.

Which Flights did the Airbus A321XLR Perform?

The test plane, flying under registration F-WWAB, is performing on average a flight per day. Most flights would fall into the medium to long haul category as this will be the aircraft’s main use once it’s delivered to airlines around the world.

Here’s which flights the test A321XLR performed:

DateFlight Time (h:mm)Route Details
Sep 17th 20235:59Flight over Southern Europe Including Spain, Portugal, Sardinia and France
Sep 16th 20236:40Flight over Mediterranean, France and UK
Sep 15th 20233:56Flight over southern Europe including France, Italy and Croatia
Sep 15th 20236:39Flight over wester Europe including Spain and UK
Sep 14th 202310:25Flight over wester Europe including Spain UK and Canary Island
Sep 13th 202311:08Polar flight to prove capabilities in arctic passing flights
Sep 13th 20236:45Flight over southern Europe including Italy and Spain

Airbus A321XLR on Route Proving Test Flights

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Which Airlines Does Airbus Need To Impress Most?

There is one airline which Airbus needs to impress most of all with these proving flights, and solving the center tank issues. That airline is Indian low cost carrier Indigo.

Indigo is among Airbus’ largest clients worldwide and it’s no secret that the carrier is eyeing an international expansion of its operations. The Indian low cost carrier has recently launched its first wide body service in joint venture with Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Delhi. However it is clear that the airline would much more prefer using 1 aircraft type for its operations. That’s where the A321XLR comes into play.

The carrier hopes to be able to open with the introduction of the A321XLR direct flights from India to London and the UK. However to do so the airline will need to have the plane with its full range performance unlocked. Other airlines though will also be looking at these test flights to further understand which route opportunities the A321XLR bring to the table for them.

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