The Airbus A321 is a stretched version of the successful A320 narrowbody airliner. The aircraft is intended for short and medium-range flights and seats 185-220 passengers.
The fuselage of the A321 is 6.93 m (22 ft 9 in) longer than that of its forerunner. The A321 also has a strengthened undercarriage and more powerful versions of the CFM56 or V2500 turbofan engines. Furthermore Airbus changed as little as possible compared with the A320. The flight decks of both types, for example, are almost identical.
The A321 first flew on 11 March 1993 and Lufthansa became the first user about a year later. Airbus developed two basic versions. The A321-100 is heavier than the A320 but doesn't have extra fuel capacity so that it offers less range. To overcome this limitation, Airbus developed the heavier A321-200, which can carry more fuel and fly longer distances. The A321-200 performed its maiden flight in December 1996.
The Airbus A321 looks very much like the Boeing 757, but is lighter and has two-wheel main undercarriage struts compared with the 757 which has four wheels at each strut. The A321 competes with the Boeing 737-800 and -900.
- A321neo -
In December 2010 Airbus officially launched the A321neo (new engine option), together with the A319neo and A320neo. This new version has more fuel efficient engines: the CFM International LEAP-1A or the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G (Geared Turbofan). Another improvement are the 'Sharklet' wingtip devices. Airbus claims that the changes result in a 20 per cent lower fuel consumption, so that the aircraft can fly 900 km (500 nm) farther or take 2 tonnes of extra payload on board. The cabin is optimised to increase the maximum number of seats from 220 to 240 and the cabin door configuration has also been adapted.
The first A321neo took off for its maiden flight on 9 February 2016. First delivery took place on 20 April 2017 to Virgin America. The standard A321 is now designated 'A321ceo' (=current engine option).
In January 2015 Airbus formally launched a heavier (97-ton maximum takeoff weight) long range version of the A321neo, the A321neoLR, aimed as a replacement for the Boeing 757 on intercontinental routes, like between Europe and the US East-Coast. Launch customer will be Air Lease Corporation (ALC) with 30 aircraft on order. First deliveries are planned for 2019. The A321neoLR will be equipped with a third auxiliary centre fuel tank and will fly up to 7,400 km (4,000 nm), a little more than the 757 does. The standard cabin seats 206 passengers.
Until Spring 2017 Airbus sold a total of over 3,100 A321s, including
more than 1,800 A321ceo aircraft plus over 1,300 A321neos.
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