The A321 program was launched in November 1989 and the first development aircraft first flew on March 11th, 1993. European certification was awarded in December that year.

Compared with the A320 the A321's major change is the stretched fuselage, with forward and rear fuselage plugs totalling 6.93 m (22 ft 9 in) (front plug immediately forward of wing 4.27 m/14 ft, rear plug directly behind the wing 2.67 m/8 ft 9 in).

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