Airbus completed the first test flight of its A321LR (Long Range) jet in Germany Wednesday with hopes of having the plane into service by the end of this year and joining other A320 aircraft on the company’s final assembly line in Mobile next year.
Airbus said its A321LR flew for 2 hours and 36 minutes in Hamburg with a crew of experimental test pilots Yann Beaufils and Peter Lofts, flight test engineers Frank Hohmeister, Jim Fawcett and Cedric Favrichon and cabin specialist Alexander Gentzsch.
The plane adds new engines and a third fuel tank to allow it to fly more than 4,300 miles nonstop. That would allow the single-aisle plane to add extended routes, including new transatlantic flights.
Those transatlantic flights will be part of the nearly 100 hours of test flights the airplane will now undergo to earn EASA and FAA certifications in the second quarter of this year on its way into service by the fourth quarter of this year.
New door and cabin configurations allow for up to 240 passengers on the plane.
The Mobile plant, the only one Airbus has in the U.S., is where workers assemble the A320 family of aircraft. The A320 jets are enjoying popularity among commercial airlines in the U.S. and around the world, and the Mobile final assembly line is working to help Airbus fill thousands of orders.