First Airbus A321neo ACF variant breaks cover at Hamburg

The rollout of Airbus A321neo Airbus Cabin Flex variant in Hamburg, Germany. (Airbus)
The rollout of Airbus A321neo Airbus Cabin Flex variant in Hamburg, Germany. (Airbus)

Airbus has rolled out the first A321neo Airbus Cabin Flex (ACF) aircraft, the largest variant of the company’s A320 narrowbody family that is designed to seat up to 240 passengers.

The first A321neo ACF, powered by CFM Leap-1A engines, was unveiled at Airbus’s Hamburg facility on January 5 (European time) after completing final assembly.

The aircraft’s livery features Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower and New York’s equally recognisable Statue of Liberty on the fuselage to illustrate the aircraft’s transatlantic flight capability.

It will undergo ground tests ahead of first flight “in the coming weeks”, with first delivery scheduled for mid-2018, Airbus said in a statement.

At its maximum 240-seat configuration, the A321neo ACF has three sets of standard doors (Doors 1 at the front of the aircraft, Doors 3 aft of the wing and Doors 4 at the rear) as well as two sets of over wing exit doors.

This compares with the four sets of standard doors on the current A321ceo/A321neo variants now flying.

Meanwhile, airline customers were able to order the aircraft with one or both sets of overwing exit doors deactivated, with four sets of standard doors or with Doors 3 deactivated, should they not require the full 240-seat capability of the A321neo ACF.

Airbus said the A321neo ACF was available as an option today and would become standard for all A321neos around 2020.

“The A321neo ACF is the base for a longer range variant known as the A321LR,” Airbus said.

“The A321LR has an increased MTOW (Maximum Take Off Weight) of 97 tonnes and a third underfloor fuel tank allowing airlines to increase its range to 4,000nm for intercontinental flights.

“The first delivery of an A321LR is targeted for Q4 2018.”

In December, Delta Air Lines ordered 100 A321neo ACF aircraft. Others to have put pen to paper for the type included Turkish carrier Pegasus for 25 aircraft and Qatar Airways for 50 aircraft.

The A321neo competes with the Boeing 737 MAX 10, which is configured to fly 3,215nm with 230 passengers in a single-class layout, at the top end of the narrowbody market.

An illustration of the Airbus A321neo ACF. (Airbus)
An illustration of the Airbus A321neo ACF. (Airbus)