Airbus is looking at taking the maximum take-off weight of the A321neo above 100t in order to extend the range of the type beyond that of the new A321LR.
But the airframer believes it can achieve the hike by incorporating minimum changes to the basic airframe.
A320 family programme manager Klaus Roewe, speaking to FlightGlobal in Hamburg during the first A321LR customer delivery, indicated the current direction of studies on potential A321neo evolution. The A321LR has a MTOW of 97t and a range of 4,000nm.
Roewe confirms the ‘A321XLR’ tag for the extended-range study, and says that the airframer is looking at a MTOW above 100t and to push the range by another 700nm.
But he states that the aircraft could use the “same wing” and would probably need “no significant changes” beyond local reinforcement, including a strengthened landing-gear.
“It’s largely about more fuel,” he says. The A321neo is fitted either with CFM International Leap-1A or Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines, and Roewe indicates that the A321XLR could use the same powerplants.
Roewe says the airframer is primarily examining means to raise the fuel capacity. He does not believe the A321XLR would require a weight-saving programme beyond the efforts which Airbus is already incorporating as standard.
But he also stresses that the proposal still amounts to a study, and there is no timeline for any firm decision.
“We’re not under pressure,” he says, pointing out that Airbus has “options” for the aircraft.
Airbus single-aisle family product marketing director Franck Navallon says the airframer is “looking at many things”.
“As soon as the market is asking, we’re studying,” he says, adding that different airlines have different range objectives.
“People like Aer Lingus are very happy with the A321LR,” he says. “Lufthansa, being a bit further down into Europe, is telling us [they’d] like a bit more.”
Navallon says the A321neo wing is “fine for supporting more improvements”, although the airframer has yet to determine the details.
He also reiterates that the proposals are “studies”, and that studies are not the only part of the thought process. “We need to go for the business case,” he says.