Airbus starts structural assembly of first A321XLR

Production has started in Germany with the structural assembly of the center and rear fuselages for the A321XLR ©Airbus

In May, Airbus’ manufacturing partner Premium AEROTEC delivered the first fully equipped Rear Center Tank (RCT) to Airbus’ major component assembly facility in Hamburg – a key component of the A321XLR’s performance. Heralding the start of the assembly of the aircraft’s rear fuselage and the center fuselage in the dedicated “Structure Pilot Line”.

The RCT, which is unique to the new long-range A321XLR, is a permanently installed high-capacity fuel tank that makes maximum volumetric use of the aircraft’s lower fuselage. Integrated in fuselage sections 15 and 17 and located behind the main landing gear bay it holds up to 13,100 liters, which is more fuel than several Additional Centre Tanks (ACTs) combined could previously hold in the A321 aircraft family.

The integration of the RCT represented a significant challenge for the teams to ensure the smooth integration of the new rear center tank and its new fuel systems. Operations faced a very tight time schedule for the overall development and the industrial set-up. Around this time, the COVID-19 pandemic started to impact collaborative work on the XLR plateau. “It was yet another significant challenge, but we quickly adapted using digital means with a “co-design approach” to achieve a solution for the aircraft,” said Stephan Meyer, Head of A321XLR Industrial Centre Aft Fuselage. “We are proud of this great product, developed and industrialized under such difficult circumstances, which is well underway,” he concludes.

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