The A321LR is an incredibly capable aircraft, and on Monday, one airline demonstrated just how versatile it can be. While most A321LR operators stick to short and medium-haul routes with the aircraft, TAP Portugal took it on an impressive 10 hour trip across Africa and beyond.
TAP’s 10-hour narrowbody flight
The trend for using smaller aircraft to fly further is being aptly illustrated by a few epic narrowbody flights of late. One particular journey, which took place this Monday, was one of the longest we’ve seen to date, covering an incredible 4,703 miles by Great Circle distance, and flying for more than 10 hours in total.
The flight was operated by CS-TXA, an Airbus A321LR flown by Portuguese carrier TAP. It took off from Maputo (MPM), the capital of East Africa’s Mozambique, at just before 11:00 local time on Monday, March 29th. Although the flight was scheduled to go to Luanda, just under four hours to the northwest, the flight continued on to another destination entirely.
Rather than stopping in Luanda, the aircraft continued to head northwest for another six long hours. It finally arrived in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde, off the western coast of Africa, ten hours and eight minutes after leaving Mozambique. Although the Great Circle distance is calculated as just over 4,700 miles, it’s likely to have traveled a bit further due to routing away from South African airspace.
The purpose of the flight is not known at this stage. Likely, it was a charter operation. We’ve reached out to TAP and will update here with new information once we have it.
The aircraft had previously flown from its home in Lisbon to Praia, then to Luanda, and finally Maputo. Why the stop on the route back was not made is unclear.
Other epic A321LR flights
January this year saw a flight that was just beaten by TAP’s African jaunt. Azores Airlines took an Airbus A321LR from Lisbon to Bogota in Colombia, clocking in at a distance of 4,678 miles, according to GCMaps. The trip took just under nine hours to complete.
Prior to that, the longest commercial flight using an A321LR was operated by Air Transat. Taking place in October last year, it flew from Montreal in Canada to Athens in Greece, clocking in a flight time of eight hours and 20 minutes.
The longest flight, in terms of flight time, to date has been an Airbus test flight conducted in April 2018. This trip went from Mahe in Seychelles to Toulouse in 11 hours. Although there were no passengers onboard, the aircraft was equipped with 162 heat-emitting dummies and 16 crew to simulate real-world conditions.
If these sorts of epic trips are feasible with the A321LR, we can only imagine how far the A321XLR will be capable of flying.