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A321XLR production kicks off with arrival of centre wing box
Thursday, 15 April 2021
Parts of the centre wing box are reinforced, such as the spars, frames and upper and lower panels. Its arrival in Hamburg, along with fuselage panels from TAI, marks the start of aircraft structural assembly.

Airbus in Nantes, France, has delivered the first A321XLR centre wing box (CWB), 16 months after machining the first metal cuts. The company identifies this as an important moment for the production teams and for the programme, as the CWB is one of the first major components delivered to the Hamburg integrator site for the start of structural assembly activities for the centre fuselage known as Section 15 in the A320 family.

At a very early stage in the Airbus production cycle, the CWB represents a significant challenge in terms of planning execution: "The CWB is always the first major component on each new aircraft development to be produced so we must mature its design very early and manage its interdependencies with fuel systems, load calculations, as well as physical interfaces to the airframe aerostructure components developed in France, Germany and the UK," explain Yannick Valette, Integrated Product Team Nose & Forward Fuselage (IPT NFF) A321XLR Programme Leader, and Richard Hue, CWB Project Leader.

To support the increased maximum take-off weight capability of the A321XLR, parts of the CWB are reinforced, such as the spars, frames and upper and lower panels. Fuel system components have also been added to the CWB to allow the supply of fuel to the new Rear Centre Tank (RCT) integrated into the fuselage in Hamburg, which provides the A321XLR with an increased fuel capacity of around 12,900 litres, giving a total maximum capacity of 40,000 litres on the aircraft.

Delivered by Beluga to the Hamburg site, the CWB will be integrated together with Section 15 (the RCT Flange Module) into the front part of the centre aft fuselage, so launching the start of assembly for the main components of this first aircraft in the dedicated H260 Structure Pilot Line in Hamburg. Meanwhile, in Nantes, the next two CWBs, which are intended for the flight test aircraft, are already being assembled. The CWB for the first customer-delivered aircraft is planned to enter production in Q4 2021.

Meanwhile, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has completed the modification and production of the first Section 18 panels for the A321XLR.

TAI started producing Section 18 panels in 1995 and has now completed the production and delivery for more than five thousand aircraft. The first set of the modified panels, which have been structurally reinforced by TAI for A321 XLR aircraft have completed its first shipment.

Section 18, which is where the rear exit door of the aircraft is installed, is produced by TAI as a single source, consists of four main panels, right-left and bottom-top, and one set panel contains a total of 1,200 detail parts.

The A321XLR's entry into service is planned for 2023.

Contact details from our directory:
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) Airframer
Airbus Nantes Aircraft Control Surfaces, Composite Structures, Engine Inlets, Fairings, Fuselage Sections, Radomes
Airbus Deutschland GmbH Empennages, Final Assembly, Fuselage Sections, Wing Flaps, Wing Spars, Wings
Airbus S.A.S. Airframer
Related aircraft programs:
Airbus A320
Related directory sectors:
Airframe Assemblies