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The new Airbus A321XLR makes its first flight

Airbus made the first flight of the new A321XLR on Wednesday, as the European planemaker tries to tap into lucrative demand for long-range single-aisle jets.

The twin-engine passenger plane took off at 11:05 a.m. local time from the Airbus factory in Hamburg, Germany.

The A321XLR can fly 4,700 nautical miles (8,700 km), allowing airlines to fly routes such as Houston-Santiago, New York-Rome or Tokyo-Sydney without the cost of a large twin-aisle aircraft.

The additional autonomy is possible thanks to the incorporation of a new fuel tank in the rear part of the fuselage.

But Airbus is facing questions from regulators over the risk of fire in the event of a belly landing and has been forced to delay entry into service by at least three months, to early 2024.

Some experts say the delay could be as long as a year for this new aircraft.

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