In June 2019, at the Paris Air Show, Airbus announced that they were developing a brand new variant of the A321neo called the A321XLR. The XLR (Extra-long range) is a further adaption to the A321LR which is also an A321neo variant that has an extended range that allows it to fly routes of up to 4,000 nm by utilising extra fuel in three Additional Centre Tanks. The Airbus A321XLR is a next-generation, middle-market aircraft which will be capable of flying 4,700nm (8,700km) that is in direct competition with the ever-aging Boeing 757, a single aisled plane developed in the late 70s to replace the Boeing 727.
The Boeing 757 was first introduced in 1983 and was produced until 2004. Over its years of production 1,050 aircraft were built. The 757 has been popular due to its versatility and its ability to be profitable on various route types such as short-haul and transatlantic routes.
Realising there was a gap in the market for medium-density, long haul route, Airbus seized upon the opportunity to develop the A321XLR. The new aircraft will be able to operate on routes that have demand but don’t justify operating larger aircraft such as the Boeing 787. An example of this type of route is Montreal, Canada to Shannon, Ireland. Boeing has had plans to produce a ‘New Mid-sized aircraft’ (NMA) for several years to fit the gap in the market. However, they focused on the Boeing 737MAX instead. Plans for the Boeing’s NMA have been continuously delayed, with COVID-19 causing Boeing to shelve the plans. Airbus though reacted in time, announcing a much-needed aircraft and allowing them to take a sizeable share of the market.
When comparing both aircraft, which one is better, the 757 or the A321XLR?
The answer is somewhat complicated, given that both aircraft were built at different times, it is evident that there are many differences between the two. Newer aircraft usually have more advanced technology onboard. So, let’s break it down and take a look at aircraft specifications, range and fuel efficiency.
The A321 XLR has a range of 4,700 nm whereas the 757 has a range of 3,900 nm. The reason for the difference is due to the A321 XLR having bigger fuel tanks and having newer, more efficient engines.
The Airbus A321 XLR can carry up to 244 people in a 2 class configuration. The Boeing 757 has a seating capacity of up to 228 people passengers in a 2 class configuration.
Both aircraft have two engine options. The A321XLR uses the PW1100G or the CFM Leap A-1. The 757 uses the PW20 40 or the Rolls Royce RB211 engine.
The A321 XLR, with the PW1100G and CFM Leap A-1 engine, is a more fuel-efficient aircraft. The fuel efficiency is due to newer engines and the installation of wingtips to decrease drag.The 757 has more thrust than the A321XLR. Which means it can take off from smaller airports, which helps the 757 target niche markets.
The 757 has been in service for almost 40 years and still has a lot to offer for airlines. After all, it does tremendous work flying cargo for DHL and many other freighter airlines. The 757 is an excellent aircraft for airlines, and it suits specific requirements. But the A321 XLR will have a lot more to offer airlines in regards to seats and better luxury.