Airbus: the A321XLR carries out its first international test flights

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the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus yesterday launched a international flight test campaign of his very last long-haul single-aisle A321XLR (Extra Long range).

Named “ Functional and Reliability Testing » (FnR) at Airbus, the campaign of “ Route proofing » is part of the activity of European Aviation Safety Agency certification (EASA). The main objective of the FnR is to demonstrate the maturity of the A321XLR systems well in advance of its entry into service, with a target of approximately 100 flight hours over 10 days without powering down the systems. Specific tests, including around 15 flights in total, are representative of what airlines could carry out when the aircraft enters service. These have been defined to represent a mix of operator profiles, climatic conditions, flight durations and airport turnaround times.

For the first time since the A321XLR first flight in June 2022, real airline cabin and flight crews will gain hands-on experience, alongside Airbus test pilots and flight engineers as well as a representative group of around 30 passengers made up of volunteers, Airbus and airline employees.

Everyone on board, along with myriad support teams on the ground in Toulouse and at destination airports, will contribute to a common goal: providing valuable feedback as the A321XLR spreads its wings to the first time away from Toulouse, crossing oceans and visiting international airports. The aircraft carrying out these missions is the MSN 11080 – one of three prototypes dedicated to flight testing and the only one to be equipped with a full cabin interior.

Previously, the “Route proofing“was basically about showing customers the plane in action – that the plane they bought can actually do what they want it to do,” explains Jim Fawcett, Airbus’ chief flight test engineer for the project. “These days we continue this type of demonstration, but we also seek to show the reliability, technical maturity and proper operation of the aircraft. This is why we prefer to speak of “functional and reliability tests “.

EASA certification
Although there are similar things on the FAA side (American regulator, editor’s note), we want to obtain an EASA certificate to begin with, which requires us to carry out 150 hours of flight which must represent routine operations aerial type and do so safely under normal conditions. Furthermore, EASA recommends that these tests be carried out in collaboration with an operator, in our case an airline», explains Jim Fawcett.

The flight must be carried out on a single aircraft, on a continuous schedule, and its configuration must be as close as possible to the final design. This is why we carry out this exercise in the second half of the overall certification campaign, because it allows us to have completed all independent intermediate development cycles and thus to have the latest software standards», continues the chief engineer. Additionally, the operation must represent typical ambient conditions in service: “ So we’re looking to go somewhere that’s a little warm and a little cold, to different airfields in terms of infrastructure, location, weather and runway altitude. So if we can also check all of these boxes, it will make it a much more representative demonstration “.

Airbus: the A321XLR carries out its first international test flights 2 Airlines and Destinations
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