London - Airbus is testing waters to launch the A321XLR by mid-2019, the longest range version of its best-selling aircraft family.
Airbus is in talks with the airlines to probe the demand for the so-called A321XLR intended to compete with Boeing's new mid-size aircraft program in the mid-range aircraft segment that's worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
Boeing is expected to launch the NMA program at the Paris Airshow next year, an entirely new airplane with 220-260 seats between traditional short-haul and large-haul jet segments.
Airbus's intention to launch a new long-range version of its best-selling narrowbody has been revealed by Reuters news agency this year in June.
Airbus plans to upgrade the MTOW of the A321neo to 101 tonnes, four tonnes more compared to 97 tonnes of the current longest-range single-aisle A321LR.
The XLR version would also be equipped with more powerful engines providing 33,000 pounds of thrust instead of 30,000 pounds.
Both Boeing and Airbus aim to allure airline operators with a more-efficient aircraft that can serve transatlantic routes with premium seats. The war for the middle of the market is supposed to govern the commercial aviation industry in the coming years.
Boeing targets to redefine the mid-range market with an entirely new design, which has a larger cabin and able to operate as efficiently as the current single-aisle jets in service today.
On the other hand, Airbus plans to give a fast answer to its rival by tweaking its best selling models A320neo and A321neo without launching a new model from scratch.
We guess the preferences of the passengers will be one of the deterministic factors to declare the winner. Yet, it is still unknown how passengers will react to traveling such distances in a single-aisle rather than a more comfortable widebody, particularly designed for long-haul routes.