The first A321neo, equipped with CFM International LEAP-1A engines, completed its first flight on February 9, 2016, from Hamburg, Germany. The flight lasted approximately 5 hours 30 mins during which tests were performed on the engine speed variation (low/high) and systems behavior and to validate the aircraft’s flight envelope.
The A321neo will join the Airbus ‘neo’ flight test fleet and perform a partial flight testing program to validate any impact on handling qualities, performance and systems for the new configuration changes. These include the latest generation engines, Sharklet wingtip devices and cabin improvements. Airbus says the A321neo will undertake a “partial” flight-test program to examine specific aspects associated with the larger type’s performance.
CFM engines were used on the first test flight, but Pratt & Whitney turbines will also be tested. Airbus declined to comment on the reason for switching to CFM engines for the initial A321neo flight although aircraft with the P&W engines are scheduled to be delivered to customers by the end of 2016 while the CFM-engined aircraft will be produced by the end of 2017.
The A321neo is a potential competitor to the Boeing 737 MAX.
February 12, 2016