Airbus A350 XWB
The newest Airbus A350 operated by Qatar Airways has made its debut flight on 15 January 2015, taking its passengers from the Qatari capital of Doha to Frankfurt, Germany. The Airbus 350 can carry 276 to 369 passengers, depending on the airliner's configuration. Positioned as a successor to the A330 and A340, the A350 boasts a lightweight design that reduces fuel consumption substantially. The jetliner's airframe is made of composite structures with titanium and advanced aluminum alloys, together with a Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) fuselage.
Airbus already had got "778 orders for the A350 from 41 different airlines and jet leasing companies including, British Airways, China Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines." However, Boeing, Airbus's major rival, was still outstripping its competitor with 1,071 orders to its 787.
The A350 XWB is the all-new mid-size long range product line comprising three versions and seating between 270 and 350 passengers in spacious three-class layouts. The new family brought a step change in efficiency compared with existing aircraft in this size category, using 25 per cent less fuel and providing an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions. By mid-2013 the A350 XWB had already won 613 firm orders from 33 customers worldwide.
The A350 Family provides long-range capability with seating capacities from 250 to 400-plus passengers. This enables airlines to match their A350 XWB fleets to route capacity demands, guaranteeing optimum revenue potential and excellent operating efficiency. The aircraft family concept, proven by Airbus with its other jetliners, also ensures optimal efficiency through the A350 XWB’s commonality in engines, systems and spare parts, while also enabling pilots to fly all three versions with a single type rating.
Airbus’ A350 XWB family consists of three versions (the A350-800, -900 and -1000) – each with flight ranges that give them a global reach. In a typical three-class configuration, the A350-800 accommodates 270 passengers, while the A350-900 and the A350-1000 seat 314 and 350 passengers, respectively. All A350 XWB Family members can be configured for higher density layouts of up to 440 seats.
Responding to the market’s call for additional payload and range, the A350-1000 is equipped with more powerful Trent XWB engines – which are fully optimised for this largest member of the A350 XWB Family. The enhanced Trent XWB delivers up to 97,000 lb. of thrust on takeoff, making it the most powerful engine ever developed for an Airbus aircraft. This extra thrust – together with an increased aircraft takeoff weight capability of 308 tonnes – enables operators to fly the A350-1000 some 400 nm. further with a full load of 350 passengers, or to carry approximately 4.5 extra tonnes of payload at a given range.
The A350 XWB’s wide fuselage cross-section was designed for an optimum travel experience in all classes of service. Passengers enjoy more headroom, wider panoramic windows and larger overhead storage space. With a cross-section of 220 inches from armrest to armrest, the jetliner’s cabin provides the widest seats in its category, being five inches larger than its nearest competitor. In addition to providing the space for unmatched premium first class and business solutions, the A350 XWB allows for high-comfort economy seating in a nine-abreast arrangement, with a generous 18-inch seat width.
Rest areas for the flight crew – which are used in long-range operations – are located in the fuselage’s crown area, offering unequalled comfort for without reducing overall revenue passenger seating capacity. Cabin crewmembers will utilise a rest facility in the A350 XWB’s rear fuselage that accommodates six to eight bunks. It has a full-height standing area, providing a comfortable zone that allows crews to prepare and dress more easily.
Initially [as of early 2006] the A350 design was based on the A330 jet but used new engines and a lighter airframe, thanks to a composite-plastic wing and a fuselage made from aluminum/lithium alloy. However, it had the same fuselage cross-section Airbus had 30 years earlier, and the wing shape was unchanged. This approach had the lowest investment and lowest risk.
By June 2006 Airbus officials was informally giving airline executives details of a redesigned long-range, two-aisle jet, which would seat nine passengers in each economy-class row, instead of eight in the original A350 version. Initial customer reaction was positive. As a result of the redesign, as of 2006 it appeared that Airbus might not be able to deliver the first of the new planes until at least 2012, two years later than originally planned and four years after Boeing's competing 787 model was scheduled for delivery.
On 14 June 2013 the first A350 XWB to fly landed back at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport France at 14.05 hours local time after successfully completing its first flight that lasted four hours and five minutes (245 minutes). The aircraft was flown by Peter Chandler, Airbus’ Chief Test Pilot, and Guy Magrin, Project Pilot for the A350 XWB. Accompanying them in the cockpit was Pascal Verneau, the A350 XWB Project Test Flight Engineer. Monitoring the progress of the flight profile were the three flight test engineers: Fernando Alonso, Head of Airbus Flight & Integration Test Centre; Patrick du Ché, Head of Development Flight Tests; and Emanuele Costanzo, lead Flight Test Engineer for the Trent XWB engine.
For its first flight, the A350 XWB – carrying the registration F-WXWB – took off at around 221 tonnes. During the flight, which took the aircraft around south western France, the crew explored the aircraft’s flight envelope. The aircraft was accompanied by a chase plane to observe and film the various manoeuvres. Its progress was monitored by experts on the ground in real-time via a direct telemetry link. This maiden flight marks the beginning of a rigorous test flight campaign involving five A350s, and around 2,500 flight hours. It would culminate in the aircraft’s certification followed by its entry into airline service scheduled for the second half of 2014 with first operator Qatar Airways.
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