Airbus is Increasing Capacity on Certain Aircraft to Compete with Boeing

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The rivalry between Airbus and Boeing is about to hit new levels, with Airbus already getting approval for the expansion of the A350-1000 and, at the same time, working on launching a longer-range version of the X321 to rival Boeing’s 77-8, 777-9 and the 777X models.

The expansion of the A350-1000 was first mooted towards the end of 2018. Multiple news outlets disclosed, at that time, plans to introduce a larger variant of the A350, the A350-2000, with a capacity of 400.

Airbus, however, quashed the “rumors,” in May 2019, insisting that the European aircraft maker was happy with the A350-900 and 1000. Speaking to the Australian Business Traveler, Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus said;

“We are happy with the A350-900 and A350-1000. We will keep focusing on these versions of the plane and find other ways to serve (higher) capacities.”

Well, it appears that the expansion was coming anyway. The company recently obtained clearance to increase the capacity of the A350-1000. But that’s not all. They’re also preparing to launch a longer-range version of the A321 jet.

EASA Approves Expansion of the A350-1000

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has announced that the agency has approved Airbus’ request to install new emergency exits on the A350-1000, paving the way for the expansion of the aircraft.

Airbus first lodged an expansion request in June, but EASA ruled that the A350-1000's emergency exits were not sufficient to allow more passengers on board. EASA felt that the Type A emergency exits on the A350-1000 would compromise the safety of passengers if more people were allowed on board.

But, Airbus wasn’t giving up. So, the company upgraded to Type A+ emergency exits, featuring two slides per exit with a dedicated exit sign and improved lighting. And, as you can guess, EASA was finally satisfied.

Responding to the new changes, the agency released a statement, saying;

“The design features in the proposed Type A+ emergency exits provide for a much better evacuation performance.”

The new Type A+ exits allow for 120 passengers per emergency exit, ten more than Type A exits. It’s worth noting, though, that the additional passengers necessitate additional crew to ensure a swift evacuation. Type A+ emergency exits require three, rather than two, cabin crew to man each emergency exit.

Airbus’ request for additional seating was awarded on November 27, 2019. In total, it takes the maximum capacity of the A350-1000 to 480, an increase of 40 seats.

Launch of the A321XLR?

To rival the upcoming Boeing 777x, Airbus is also finalizing plans to launch a longer-range version of the A321. As reported in the Financial Times in June, the company has been courting potential airline customers about a longer-range model of the single-aisle A321 jet.

The A321XLR could be flying the skies as early as 2023 – a whole two years before the planned launch of the Boing 777x. The delayed launch of the 777x is linked to the extended grounding of the 737 Max.

Reports indicate that the XLR has a higher maximum take-off weight of 101 tones more than the A321LR. It also has a longer range (up to 4500 nautical miles), which would make it Airbus’ longest-range single-aisle.

May the Best Team Win

From public displays of prowess to open order battles, the race has only begun; Airbus and Boeing are set on taking their competition to new levels. Already, spectators are waiting to see how the companies deal with Qantas’ recent request. Qantas has challenged the two to present their “best offer” for a more long-haul jetliner. Let’s see who wins.

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