Airbus has announced that its teams in Nantes, France, have completed the manufacturing on the very first A321XLR’s Centre Wing Box.
The Centre Wing Box (CWB) has now been delivered to Hamburg in Germany, marking the first major component of the newly developed aircraft to be delivered, 16 months after the first metal cuts were machined.
Following this milestone, work towards starting the structural assembly of the aircraft’s centre fuselage, known as “Section 15” across the A320 family, can begin.
According to Airbus, the completion of the CWB, which essentially serves as the heart of the aircraft, represents the overcoming of significant challenges in planning and execution.
“The CWB is always the first major component on each new aircraft development to be produced so we must mature its design very early and manage its interdependencies with fuel systems, load calculations, as well as physical interfaces to the airframe aerostructure components developed in France, Germany and the UK,” said Yannick Valette, Integrated Product Team Nose & Forward Fuselage (IPT NFF) A321XLR programme leader, and Richard Hue, CWB project leader.
The Airbus A321XLR is set to the longest-range single-aisle jet thanks to its increased maximum take-off weight (MTOW) capacity, which allows it to carry an additional fuel tank in its fuselage, under the passenger cabin.
The increased MTOW and additional fuel tank mean that the aircraft can now carry an additional 12,900 litres of fuel, up to 40,000 litres in total, which leads to its increased range of up to 4,700 nautical miles.
According to Airbus, in order to support this increased MTOW capability, parts of the CWB need to be reinforced, including the spars, frames and upper and lower panels.
Fuel tank components have also been added to the CWB, to allow the supply of fuel to the new fuel tank integrated into the fuselage, named the Rear Centre Tank (RCT).
The CWB will now be integrated together with Section 15 into the front part of the Centre-Aft-Fuselage at Airbus’ Hamburg factory, marking the beginning of the structural assembly of the first A321XLR’s main components.
Meanwhile, in Nantes, the next two CWBs, which are intended for the flight test aircraft, are already being assembled.
Airbus said that following this, the CWB for the first customer-delivered A321XLR is expected to enter production later this year, and the jet is on track to enter into service as planned in 2023.