13 hours without refueling: Airbus A321XLR conducts longest-ever test flight

Airbus’ A321XLR [extra long range, ed.-] jet, the manufacturer’s longest-range single-aisle aircraft, has performed a more than 13-hour test flight across Europe without a refueling stop.

The Airbus A321XLR prototype plane, registered F-WXLR, took off for the type’s longest test flight to date from Toulouse–Blagnac Airport (TLS) in France on December 13, 2022.

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According to flight history data found on Flightradar24.com, it took 13 hours and 15 minutes for the aircraft to make a circle flight across Europe, initially flying towards the direction of the United Kingdom, then making a turn past Oslo, Berlin, Prague, Rome, Sicily, and Sardinia before returning to Toulouse.

The flight was conducted by Airbus as part of its newest long-range twinjet development program, which was officially launched during the Paris Air Show in 2019.

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Built to fly as far as 4,700 nautical miles (8,700 kilometers), the A321 is expected to make it cheaper for airlines to offer longer flights when compared to the operating cost of larger twin-aisle aircraft.  The unique range of the jet is enabled by a permanent RCT [Rear Center Tank, ed.-], which can hold 12,900 liters of fuel.

Airbus claims that the specific RTC design solution allows the A321XLR to fly longer routes connecting destinations like New York (JFK) and Rome (FCO), Tokyo (HND) and Sydney (SYD) or Houston (IAH), and Santiago (SCL) without a refueling stop. 

Having conducted the first flight in June 2022, the A321XLR jet is expected to start serving commercial passenger flights in 2024.

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