Airbus’ third A321XLR performs rejected take-off test

The third Airbus A321XLR Prototype F-WWAB, MSN 11080, performed its rejected take-off test at Hamburg-Finkenwerder yesterday. The aircraft joins two other test beds, WXLR and WWBZ, to carry out all the tests necessary for certification.


Interestingly, this XLR has a much more typical Airbus house livery, unlike its two sister ships which both sport decals on the city skyline, regarding their ability to connect distant locations.

A rejected take-off (RTO) is generally considered to be one of the most difficult tests an aircraft must undergo for its certification tests. The RTO test is performed under the worst possible conditions, such as completely worn brakes, an aircraft loaded to maximum takeoff weight, and no use of thrust reversers.

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During an RTO test, most of the aircraft’s kinetic energy is converted to heat by the brakes, which can melt tire fusible plugs and deflate them. Small brake lights are acceptable provided that within the first five minutes they do not interfere with the safe and complete evacuation of the aircraft.

Photo: Airbus


The A321XLR

The Airbus A321XLR will have a range of 4,700 nautical miles (5,400 miles) and will be able to fly non-stop for almost eleven hours. This makes possible city pairs such as New York-Rome, Delhi-London, and Sydney-Kuala Lumpur while retaining the superior economy of a narrowbody single-aisle. The XLR can fly around 30% farther than an A321neo and 15% farther than an A321LR, so it has to carry more fuel, which increases the maximum take-off weight (MTOW). The heavier MTOW means upgrades to, among other things, landing gear and braking systems, which must be flight tested and certified.

The A321XLR also complements wide-body aircraft by serving the same routes during off-peak hours or when there is a significant seasonal variation in demand.

Airbus will have four prototypes in total as it works towards type certification. On June 15, the first prototype successfully completed its first test flight. The aircraft is now beginning its flight test campaign with a view to obtaining type certification in 2023 and entry into service in 2024.

What is an aborted takeoff?

An RTO, or Rejected Take Off, is a flight maneuver in which pilots shut down the aircraft and abort takeoff. There can be several reasons why such a decision is made. This can include engine failure, engine fire, major system failures, and other scenarios. There are a few elaborate RTO scenarios below:

  • The Go/Stop Decision
    • In the event of an engine malfunction, recognition of a significant anomaly, or an ATC instruction to shut down the aircraft during the take-off roll.
  • Continue take off
    • Once a correctly calculated airspeed has been exceeded, the takeoff should be continued and should allow the aircraft to take off and climb safely.
  • high speed RTO
    • Once at high speed, it is usually decided that a takeoff will only be aborted in the event of major malfunctions such as engine failure or fire – or at the captain’s discretion in the event that an equally serious would happen.
  • Low speed RTO
    • It is expected that the takeoff will be aborted for a significant malfunction or an abnormal situation in the lower speed range; it is highly likely that directional control will largely depend on the use of the nose gear steering system.

You can read more about Rejected Take Off here.

Sources: TwitterSkybrary, Airbus, RoutesOnline

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