Final assembly of the first A321neo to combine Airbus Cabin Flex (ACF) with a new 97 metric tonne MTOW (maximum take off weight) capability and an option for additional fuel capacity, is underway in Hamburg. This soon-to-launch variant of the popular narrow-body aircraft – named the A321neo ACF – introduces modifications to the doors and fuselage, which when coupled with higher MTOW, gives airlines the choice of either increasing maximum capacity to 240 passengers for intra-regional high-density routes, or installing an additional fuel tank for up to 4,000nm intercontinental range with around 206 passengers.
The most visible changes compared with the previous A321 variant are the ACF-related enhancements. Differences include the removal of the door just ahead of the wing (Door 2), the addition of upward-swinging double emergency over-wing exit doors (making four in total), and the relocation of the door just aft of the wing (Door 3 on previous A321s), which has been moved back by a distance of four frames.
One pair of the over-wing doors and the relocated Door-3 can be activated or de-activated, depending on the respective layout and seating density. In addition, the deletion of Door 2 facilitates – for the first time in this aircraft type – an uninterrupted seating zone that spans the entire forward half of the aircraft, thus enabling more flexibility in business class configurations without compromising layout efficiency.
The A321neo ACF model also brings more flexibility in the underfloor cargo area, where a third auxiliary center tank (ACT) can now be installed. Combined with the increased MTOW of 97 metric tonnes, the third ACT adds a further 400nm of range. If this option is taken, the aircraft becomes the A321LR, claimed by Airbus to be the longest range single-aisle airliner in production. The A321LR gives airlines the ability to fly up to 4,000nm with 206 passengers.
The A321neo ACF is an option for now, but will become the default build standard for all A321neos from 2020. Following final assembly, the first aircraft will make its first flight in the coming months, with first delivery expected for Q2 2018. First delivery of the A321LR is scheduled for Q4 2018.