Assembly of the first A321neo ACF (Airbus Cabin Flex) has been completed in Hamburg, the manufacturer confirms.
The CFM International Leap-1A-powered narrowbody will undergo ground tests prior to its scheduled first flight "in the coming weeks", Airbus adds.
It gives "mid-2018" as the timeframe for first delivery to a customer.
The variant's exits are positioned immediately aft of the wing and can be removed to allow a higher-density seating capability.
In a high-density single-class layout, with a space-saving aft galley installed, the aircraft can seat up to 240 passengers.
This total is attained by located 102 seats ahead of the overwing exits, six at the exits themselves, with 59 in the cabin between the wing and the repositioned aft exits, and 73 in the rearmost section.
While the original A321 capacity had been limited to 220 passengers, a modification to the two forward and two aft type I exits – which the European Aviation Safety Agency describes as "over-performing" – enables this to be increased to 230 passengers.
Carriers including Wizz Air have taken delivery of this 230-seat variant of the A321. Wizz also has a 239-seat version of the A321neo on order, while Pegasus, Qatar Airways and VietJet are intending to take the A321neo ACF.
An option today, the A321neo ACF will become standard for all A321neos around 2020, says Airbus, and is the base of the longer-range variant, the A321LR.