MIAMI – Airbus teams have achieved a milestone in the development of the A321XLR with the shipment of the first Centre Wing Box (CWB) to Hamburg, Germany.

Airbus teams in Nantes, France, delivered the first A321XLR’s CWB 16 months after machining the first metal cuts. As a general practice, Airbus Beluga will transport the CWB first to the Hamburg completion site for the commencement of structural integration activities. The CWB is one of the key components for the A320’s middle fuselage, which Airbus named it “Section 15.”

It is worth knowing that the CWB is one of the structural core of the aircraft and a specialty of the Nantes site. Airbus engineers provision structural durability and strength in designing and producing A321 XLR.

“The CWB is always the first major component on each new aircraft development to be produced so we must mature its design very early and manage its interdependencies with fuel systems, load calculations, as well as physical interfaces to the airframe aerostructure components developed in France, Germany and the UK,” explain[ed] Yannick Valette, Integrated Product Team Nose & Forward Fuselage (IPT NFF) A321XLR Programme Leader, and Richard Hue, CWB Project Leader.

Nantes employees in action. Photo: Airbus

Adapting to the Future

Airbus engineers increased the strength of some Sections of the CWB, such as the spars, doors, and upper and lower panels, to accommodate the A321XLR’s increased maximum take-off weight (MTOW).

In addition, Nant’s technician installed fuel system components on the CWB to enable fuel supply to the new Rear Centre Tank (RCT) built into the fuselage in Hamburg. Consequently, the RCT will provide the A321XLR with an improved fuel volume of about 12,900 liters, giving the aircraft a total maximum capacity of 40,000 liters.

Airbus teams celebrate the first A321XLR Centre Wing Box delivery. Photo: Airbus

Continuous Advancement

By the start of installation of the CWB into the front portion of the Center-Aft-Fuselage (CAF) along with Section 15 (the RCT Flange-Module), installation for the key components of this first aircraft will kick-off. A321 XLR will take shape in the dedicated hangar H260 “Structure Pilot Line” in Hamburg.

Meanwhile, assembly work on the next two CWBs for the flight test aircraft is in progress in Nantes. Moreover, Airbus will start production of the first A321 XLR for the first customer in Q4 2021.

Featured image: Airbus