Picture from Airbus.

MIAMI — The Airbus A321neoLR (Long Range) variant has taken off for the first time in what will be the beginning of a 100 hour test campaign for certification.

MSN7877, the maiden aircraft in question took off from Hamburg this morning for necessary tests to check its performance and operation in the air and finally accomplished 2 hours and 36 minutes in its first flight.

Klaus Roewe, Head of A320 Programme stated: “Thanks to its outstanding performance and unbeatable efficiency, the A321LR will allow our customers to perform flights of up to 4,000nm, allowing them to open new routes – for example transatlantic – and conquer new markets.”

The aircraft’s crew comprised: Experimental Test Pilots, Yann Beaufils and Peter Lofts, as well as Flight Test Engineers, Frank Hohmeister, Jim Fawcett, Cedric Favrichon and Cabin Specialist Alexander Gentzsch. The A321neoLR is powered by CFM’s LEAP-1A engines and will be used on other customer’s deliveries also.

Airbus believes that they can get this aircraft into commercial service by the end of the year, with the testing and approval by EASA and the FAA to occur by Q2 of 2018. Commercial service should begin around Q4 of 2018 respectively.

The A321neoLR is a game-changer for other aircraft that are competing in this segment of the market. With an MTOW (Maximum Take-Off Weight) of 97 tonnes and a distance of up to 4,000 nautical miles, it competes significantly with the Boeing 737 MAX.

It also blows any seating capacity on the 737 MAX out of the water as it can carry up to 240 passengers, up to 10 seats more than the 737 MAX 10.

READ MORE: Air Transat To Become First North American Airbus A321LR Operator

This aircraft will give customers the ability to tap into long-haul markets without needing the far larger one to sustain those routes. With the offering of up to 20% better fuel consumption by 2020, it will compare significantly against the 737 MAX’s 10% in fuel consumption.

So for an aircraft that travels over 800 miles more and carries ten passengers more than the 737 MAX 10, the A321neoLR appears to be the airliner that is capturing a lot more attention in the eyes of the customers.

READ MORE: Looking at Potential Routes for the Airbus A321LR

With a market share of over 80%, Airbus believes that this variant will definitely dominate the Middle-of-the-Market industry.

This variant alone has received over 1,900 orders from over 50 different customers across the globe, all aiming to get their piece of the pie in the long-haul market. By having such a large market-share, the market will undoubtedly play well in Airbus’ favor.

It will be interesting to see what sort of effect that this aircraft will have on the bigger ones that are currently operating, such as the A330, A340, A380, Boeing 747, 777 and 787 and so on.

Customer demand could change in the sense of wanting smaller aircraft to travel further. It will most definitely change the way passengers fly around the globe and could encourage more stop-over flying if it produces a profitable scale.

All-in-all, it is something to definitely look out for when the 737 MAX program develops and how Boeing will respond to this.