First BelugaXL takes shape in Toulouse
November 13, 2017: Work on assembling the first BelugaXL large transporter is progressing well, and attachment of its main cargo door is set to begin in mid-November. Recently received parts for the aircraft's specially designed tail section which have been installed on the aircraft include the horizontal tailplane (HTP), the tail cone and the vertical tailplane (VTP). Airbus has also launched the electrical and mechanical systems installation for the whole fuselage, in readiness for electrical power-on at the end of the year and subsequent ground tests early in 2018. Integration work will start soon on the second aircraft.
The first BelugaXL is scheduled to fly in the third quarter of 2018, ahead of a 10-month flight test certification campaign and will enter service with Airbus Transport International (ATI) in 2019. Aircraft ‘number one’ is the only aircraft which will take part in this campaign and so it is being equipped with a ‘full’ flight-test instrumentation (FTI).
Latest A321neo build standard with “Airbus Cabin-Flex”, 97t MTOW option and long-range capability nears rollout
Final assembly of the first A321neo, which combines “Airbus Cabin Flex” (ACF) with a new 97 metric tonne MTOW (Maximum Take Off Weight) capability and an option for additional fuel capacity, is underway at Airbus’ facilities in Hamburg. This variant launches new door and fuselage improvements, which when coupled with the new higher take-off weight, permits airlines to either increase maximum capacity to 240 passengers for their intra-regional high-density missions, or allows installation of an additional (third) underfloor fuel tank for up to 4,000nm intercontinental range with around 206 passengers.
The most visible changes compared with the previous A321 variant are the ACF-related enhancements. These include: the removal of the door just ahead of the wing (known as “Door-2”); the addition of new upward-swinging double emergency over-wing exit doors (ie four in total); and the moving further back by four frames of the door just aft of the wing (known as “Door-3” on previous A321s). One pair of the over-wing doors and the relocated “Door-3” (now further aft of the wing) can be activated or de-activated depending on the respective layout and seating density. Additionally, the deletion of Door-2 facilitates for the first time an endless seating zone spanning the entire forward half of the aircraft, thus enabling variable business class sizes without degrading layout efficiency.
Besides these cabin features on the main deck, the A321 “ACF” model also brings more flexibility in the ‘underfloor’ cargo area where a third “Auxiliary Centre Tank” (ACT) can now be installed. Earlier, the A321 offered the provision for up to two ACTs the size of a cargo container. Combined with the increased MTOW of 97 metric tonnes, the third ACT adds a further 400 nautical miles of range making this variant of the A321neo the longest range single-aisle airliner in production known as the A321LR. Airlines will thus be able to make long-haul flights up to 4,000 nautical miles with 206 passengers. The A321neo ACF is an option for now, but will become the default build standard for all A321neos from 2020. Following final assembly, the aircraft will make its first flight in the coming months, with first delivery expected for Q2 2018. As for the A321LR, the first delivery is scheduled for Q4 2018.
Mobile USA FAL receives its 50th A320 Family shipset
Airbus’ US final assembly line (FAL) in Mobile, Alabama, recently received its 50th shipset of A320 Family subassemblies. These components will become the 50th Airbus aircraft produced in the US – an A321 for Delta Air Lines to be delivered in December. The Mobile FAL took delivery of the component for its first aircraft in June 2015. At the time of writing, in November, the facility had delivered 43 aircraft to four customers and had reached a production rate of four per month. In other recent news, in October, AirAsia took delivery of the first A320neo to be assembled at the Airbus Final Assembly Line Asia (FALA) in Tianjin, China. Today Airbus has A320 Family FALs located in four countries: Toulouse in France; Hamburg in Germany; Tianjin in China; and Mobile in the US.