Qatar Airways chooses A321neo ACF over A320neo

What does ACF, or Airbus Cabin Flex mean? Find out by reading on.

Qatar Airways had placed an order for 50 A320neo aircraft in 2011, but later began cancelling deliveries, putting the carrier and Airbus in a potential dispute situation. That dispute seems to have now been settled with a firm order for A321neo ACF (Airbus Cabin Flex) aircraft.

So what is Airbus Cabin Flex?

ACF is the solution offered by Airbus for the A321neo, enabling it to carry additional passengers and bringing the total capacity of the aircraft to 240, which makes the aircraft a very interesting option for airlines like Qatar Airways. The A321neo comes with 4 doors and one overwing exit on the fuselage. The ACF version would have two overwing exits. The operator then has the following options:

Enable both overwing exits as well as doors 1, 3 and 4 and seat 240 passengers.

Enable doors 1, 2, 3 and 4 and deactivate the overwing exits, seating 220 passengers.

Enable doors 1, 2, 3 and one overwing exit (deactivating door 4) and seat 195 passengers.

The above three options are designed to be changable in-service and can be done overnight. The deactivated doors are replaced with physical door plugs and covered with normal wall lining on the inside, making it invisible to the passenger.

There is also a 165 seat option but that requires permanent deactivation of door 2 and moving door 3 back about 4 frames, which means that is a factory option and cannot be implemented by the carrier. The press image provided by Airbus seems to show this variant with the Qatar livery – door 2 permanently deleted and door 3 moved back. But more interestingly, the image also shows the A321neo with CFM Leap engines, hinting perhaps that Qatar has chosen the CFM powerplant for this aircraft. It would make sense, as supposedly one of the reasons for pulling out of the initial 2011 A320neo deal was techincal issues with the Pratt and Whitney PW1100G engines.

Delivery of the A3210neo will begin in 2019.

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