The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreed on changes required for the central fuel tank of the Airbus A321XLR to protect it in the event of a incident to prevent a fire before passengers can vacate the plane. The document issued by EASA in response to the FAA request to make changes to the A321XLR fuselage because the tank is located in the center rear, occupying a part of what would be the rear cargo hold, for which they ask Airbus lower the part of the fuselage in the area of the tank and that must have protection against fire. In addition, EASA requests that the tank be installed in a specific area of the fuselage that will not rupture or structurally fail in the event of a survivable accident, in order to avoid a fire in the rear section of the fuselage that would prevent the evacuation of passengers. Even suggest Airbus to use a structure around the tank that can absorb shocks to mitigate the effects of a possible impact or drag on the runway in case of landing without landing gear. For its part, the FAA establishes that each tank must be supported in such a way that the charges are not concentrated in unsupported areas of the tank; there must be pads between them to prevent friction between the tanks and their supports, and these pads must be treated so that they do not absorb fuel. The fuel lines must also be supported so that they do not have to absorb liquid loads and must be protected against wear due to friction inside the tank. Spaces adjacent to the tank must be ventilated to prevent accumulation of fuel or vapors in those areas if there is a leak. If the tank is in a sealed compartment there should be holes to drain to prevent clogging and excessive pressure from altitude changes. All this is in addition to the tests that are always done with fuel tanks to measure effects due to pressure, vibrations, inertia loads, ventilation, duration and number of cycles. All these changes to be made by the manufacturer are those that were anticipated and for this reason the service start date was adjusted for the first quarter of 2024 instead of next year, since Airbus will have to work on the necessary modifications to comply with the requirements of both European and North American authorities.
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