Another significant milestone in the making of the first A321XLR has been passed: The nose and front fuselage assembly has started in France, following the earlier works on the centre wing box.
Less than two months after the start of structural assembly of the rear and centre fuselages in Germany, Airbus teams are taking another significant production step with the structural assembly and system equipment of the nose and front fuselages at its Saint-Nazaire facility in Western France.
Six fuselage sections arrived per road convoy from STELIA Aerospace at Airbus Saint-Nazaire on July 1st. Here they will be assembled in the coming weeks including system equipment and flight test instruments installation in the third quarter 2021.
"This is a key milestone for the A321XLR. We are on track to support the aircraft's entry into service by 2023," says Martin Schnoor, Head of A321XLR Programme Development Airframe Programme.
"We were able to anticipate the structural and systems assembly phases of this first fuselage with our full length physical mockup allowing us to test in advance the A321XLR's structural and systems modifications and to prepare the assembly phases," says Sebastien Verger, A321XLR project management, Airbus Saint-Nazaire.
"We are working on a collaborative "plateau" with Manufacturing Engineering, Technical coordination, Logistics, Quality and dedicated operators," says Paul Molitor, A321XLR development project manager for Airbus. "A dedicated Launch team is following this first aircraft at each step of production."
The first fully assembled and equipped nose and front fuselage will be delivered from Saint-Nazaire to Hamburg for the final assembly of the first A321XLR flight test aircraft in the fourth quarter.
The A321XLR is the next step in the evolution of the successful Airbus' single-aisle family. It builds on the overall Airbus commonality while adding the Xtra Long Range capability, increased revenue payload and best travel experience through the unrivalled Airbus Airspace cabin.
This A321XLR will provide airlines with a range flexibility of up to 4,700nm and a 30% lower fuel burn and CO2 emissions per seat compared with previous-generation aircraft.
Meanwhile, RUAG Aerostructures in Oberpfaffenhofen is supplying Airbus with a first complex fuselage section for the A321XLR. The second aft-most fuselage section, which is over six metres long and around four metres high, is home to the new jet's lavatories and rear galley. RUAG Aerostructures already delivered first side and floor elements to Hamburg in the spring.
With the completion of the first section 18/19, RUAG Aerostructures is already delivering the third major structural part for the new jet to Airbus in Hamburg. The fuselage's second rear section weighs over one ton, measuring six metres in length and just under four metres in height. This forms the basis for the rear exits as well as the lavatories and galley. The main innovation of this fuselage section is the ability to accommodate larger tanks for drinking and service water, in order to make the flight times of over eight hours for passengers as comfortable as possible.
Andre Wall, CEO of RUAG International, is proud of the successful delivery: "Thanks to our many years of experience in aircraft structure construction, we were able to respond flexibly and at short notice to design improvements. The higher take-off weight, also due to the additional fuel tanks, posed special challenges for the design of the aircraft structural components. A top performance by the entire Aerostructures team."
All three RUAG Aerostructures sites are involved in the production of the large assemblies for the new Airbus A321XLR. The upper side shells of the aircraft fuselage, the rear fuselage and floor structure, the tail spar and the pressure dome are produced in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Individual small components are manufactured in Emmen, Switzerland. At the plant in Eger, Hungary, which recently received EASA Part-21 certification, the floor structures as well as the lower side shells including the landing gear well are manufactured.
The entry into service is targeted for 2023.
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