A new JetBlue tailfin emerged at the Airbus final assembly line in Hamburg/Finkenwerder this week raising questions about possible changes on the aircraft interior. PaxEx.Aero can now confirm this will be the first A321neo with a Mint interior for the carrier. Delivery and entry into service are expected to occur before the end of the year.
In addition to the new tailfin design the aircraft layout also triggered some inquiries about a possibly different interior layout compared to the all-core, 200 seat A321neo aircraft. Most notable is that the doors at 3L/R, just aft of the wing, do not appear equipped as emergency exits.
In the image for N2060J you can see the darker blue outline around the door and, zooming in, the exit handle and other markings. On the newer plane those markings and that handle are missing. This suggests it will not be equipped as an emergency exit when the aircraft enters service. This also means it is likely that one or more rows will feature window seats without windows, though that remains to be confirmed.
Without the 3L/R doors equipped as exits the maximum seating capacity of the aircraft is reduced relative to the absolute limits in the A321neo/ACF configuration. It would not have sufficient egress capacity for the all-Core, high density configuration.
But with the over-wing exits enabled as well as double-wide slides front and back the plane should have no trouble meeting evacuation guidelines for the lower total seating capacity in a Mint configuration.
Does this shift JetBlue’s fleet guidance??
In the Q2 earnings report issued over the Summer JetBlue suggested it would take only the HD config of the A321neo aircraft for the four frames remaining to be delivered in 2020.
Now that we expect this Mint plane to be delivered in 2020 this means either the carrier is taking more planes sooner than the revised delivery timeline or, more likely, that a Mint plane swapped in for a HD layout. Three other A321neo planes have been spotted in JetBlue livery at Finkenwerder over the summer but remain undelivered. They all have the extra exit door active, indicating an all-economy or HD configuration.
Given the delivery timing and JetBlue’s statements this summer regarding the A321LR delivery delays it is likely that this is not an A321LR, but that remains unconfirmed at this time.
The new tailfin, dubbed “Ribbon,” does not include any green in the palette like the Prism tailfin used on prior Mint (and non-Mint) A321s. But the company confirmed to employees that this aircraft is a Mint configuration.
A JetBlue spokesperson declined to comment on the new aircraft.
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First of all, the tailfin is the vertical stabilizer and second, only because there’s no paint on the aft doors doesn’t mean they are not used emergency exits. Without those exit the aircraft is going nowhere, at least with passengers on board. The aircraft is certified with those exits, it’s not a customer option!
Seth Miller says
JetBlue calls them tailfin designs.
As for the 3L/R exits, it isn’t just the missing paint. It is also that the “plugs” inserted right now don’t have the exit hardware. And they’re very different from the previously delivered all-core config planes. The main thing I’m unsure of wrt the exits is what the max distance from seat to exit is. That’s where closing those off might stretch things too far for the certification.
Between all that and some internal company chatter I’m comfortable with the details as reported. Maybe I got it all wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.