Picture from Airbus.

LONDON – On Tuesday, October 2, 2018, Airbus gained certification for its newest variant in the neo family. The A321neo Long Range is now allowed to perform long-haul, ETOPS flights by both Europe’s EASA and the United States’ FAA.

The certification allows the European manufacturer to start delivering the aircraft to its customers.

An Airbus A321LR takes off during a presentation of the company’s new long range aircraft in Hamburg-Finkenwerder, Germany, January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

The LR version of the A321 features three additional central fuel tanks, which allows the plane to fly up to 4,000nm with to 206 passengers.

Moreover, the plane’s ETOPS capability allows the plane to fly for up to 180 minutes on a single engine, competent of flying transatlantic routes.

In addition to the fuel tank modifications, Airbus has upgraded this variant with an increased Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) of 97 tons, needed to permit the installation of the three fuel tanks.

Also, the plane comes with the lighter ‘Airbus Cabin Flex’ (ACF), which adds four emergency exits over the wing and removes the two exits just before the engines.

Airbus Cabin Flex will be standard on all new A321NEOs from 2020. However, airlines will need to disclose if they want the extra fuel tanks, as the LR variant has other, smaller modifications.

Despite the news, Airbus needs to find a new launch operator, as it was originally meant to be Primera Air, which went under on the exact same day the plane was certified.

Primera Air blamed Airbus for the delayed delivery of these planes, stating that it was an important catalyst in the airline’s folding.

The new A321neo LR is the quintessential middle of the market aircraft that will blatantly replace the Boeing 757-200.

Next summer, during the Paris Air Show 2019, Boeing is expected to launch the all-new NMA, which is supposed to act as a counterpart to the A321neo LR.