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On a test flight, Airbus is taking employees to experience the flying experience of the new Airbus A321 XLR

On a test flight, Airbus is taking employees to experience the flying experience of the new Airbus A321 XLR

Photo: Airbus

On 5 October, an A321 XLR test aircraft performed a passenger test flight under typical airline operating conditions. On board, 200 Airbus employees were the first to test the A321 XLR in simulating real service conditions before it enters service in 2024.

This flight was attended by 167 Airbus employees as passengers, in addition to 22 experts and 11 members of the flight and cabin test crew. The experimental aircraft, MSN 11080, took off from Toulouse, France, at 11:14 a.m. and landed at 5:26 p.m., after six hours and twelve minutes, crossing Europe.

All Airbus A321 aircraft are already certified to fly using up to 50% sustainable aviation fuel on board.

By assessing passengers’ perception of cabin comfort, the passenger flight represents an important contribution to the verification and validation of the A321 Environment and systems while the aircraft is in the air.

During the flight, passengers were asked to complete a questionnaire about visual aspects of the cabin, as well as temperatures and noise levels. They were asked to test various cabin systems, including air conditioning, lighting, kitchens, electrical, bathrooms and water systems, explained Pete Housley, product delivery test team leader.

Ergonomic aspects were also evaluated, such as the ease of loading and unloading the new luggage compartments.

Photo: Airbus

In addition to the perception research, the 22 experts on board took the opportunity to make direct measurements of sound levels and temperature. Crew exposure to noise was recorded, especially in the main entrance door area. Elements of the new Airspace cabin have also been tested to ensure that there are no vibrations or resonances during various phases of flight.

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With this new flight test, extensive certification testing of the A321

In addition, the aircraft will provide an unprecedented range for single-aisle aircraft, up to 4,700 nautical miles (8,700 km), with 30% lower fuel consumption per seat compared to previous generation aircraft, as well as reduced NOx and noise emissions.

To date, the A320neo family has registered more than 9,700 orders from more than 130 customers around the world. Orders for the A321XLR have exceeded 500 from more than 20 customers.

Passenger voice

The 167 Airbus employees on board are participating in the A321 XLR program in France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Among them was Blanca Martinez Galar, an aerodynamics engineer in Getafe, Spain, who shared her excitement about being there: “When I learned that I would be selected for this flight, I was very happy and very proud to be one of the first passengers on board the A321 XLR and one of the people from Airbus Aerodynamics to be selected. I have been working hard on this aircraft over the past year, participating in high-performance and low-speed flight test campaigns for the CFM and Pratt & Whitney engines, so it is very exciting to be in the A321XLR. As a passenger, I would say that the A321 XLR is a very comfortable and quiet aircraft. It was also my first business class flight, so I was really impressed with it. I really enjoyed this moment.

Photo: Airbus

Nicolas Moillon was arriving from Airbus Atlantic in Montoir-de-Bretagne, France, and was also one of the selected passengers: “I was excited to be on board as I missed out on the A321 XLR’s maiden flight last year. I was grateful to have this second chance. I really enjoyed the diversity of the Airbus team on board, working in different roles and locations, whether they are engineers, operators or support roles. Wherever we are, we are all very proud to contribute to this fledgling aircraft.

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We had a lot of funsays Jim Fawcett, chief flight test engineer who was involved in the entire A321XLR flight path test campaign. “It is always interesting to share these moments with our colleagues and learn more about their work. It’s also a great opportunity for us to show how we work. I think a lot of our colleagues have discovered what it’s like to be on test flight, so it’s a really good experience for all of us.

Airbus information

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