Airbus A321LR Gets Safety Approval, New Launch Customer After Primera Bankruptcy

Oct 2, 2018

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Airbus’ latest jet has received one of the most important regulatory approvals it can get before it enters commercial service — but the company has had to find a new launch customer for its newest aircraft.

The Airbus A321LR received safety approval from US and European regulators, Airbus announced today. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) both certified the aircraft for ETOPS operations (extended-range twin-engine operational performance standards) — approving the aircraft to operate with three fuel tanks. Before, the A321 could only fly with two fuel tanks.

This means that the A321LR, a member of the A321neo family, can fly 4,000 nautical miles with 206 passengers aboard. The regulators said the aircraft can fly for 180 minutes on a single-engine, which would be enough time for the jet to divert in case of an engine failure on transatlantic routes.

While this is great news for Airbus and gets the jet one step closer to entering commercial service — the A321LR’s launch customer just announced that it will be shutting down.

Yesterday, ultra-low cost carrier Primera Air declared bankruptcy and announced it would immediately cease all operations. Although the airline had been around for 14 years, it had recently rebranded and launched a series of transatlantic flights between the US and Europe.

Primera was supposed to be the launch customer for the Airbus A321LR, which was hailed as a new way to operate transatlantic routes. It allows for a fuel efficient narrow-body aircraft to fly thinner routes more cost effectively, say between Baltimore (BWI) and Brussels (BRU). Primera was supposed to take delivery of the aircraft by the end of 2018.

Now that Primera is defunct, the launch customer for the A321LR will be ARKIA, an Israeli carrier. ARKIA was already slated to receive the aircraft after Primera, so it’s logical that the airline would be the next to take delivery of the new jet.

The aircraft manufacturer is working on a supplemental version of its newest jet, the A321XLR (XLR standing for extended long range) which could fly 4,500 nautical miles. It hopes to use the XLR to compete with against new Boeing middle of market aircraft like the upcoming 797.

H/T: Reuters

Featured image courtesy of Airbus.

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