Airbus A350 XWB Airliner

Extra-wide. That is the most suitable word to describe the new airplane by Airbus, the Airbus A350 XWB. The airplane is deemed as the successor of A330 and A340. Airbus aims the A350 XWB to compete with Boeing 777 and 787 series. It made its maiden flight on June 14th 2013.

Development

The idea to develop the aircraft came up as far back to 2004. On 16 September 2004, Noel Forgeard, Airbus President and CEO said a new project was under consideration but he did not give a name for the project. During the initial stage of planning, Airbus planned the fuselage was to be similar with A330. However, the wings and horizontal stabilizers will be developed from scratch.

On 10 December 2004, EADS board as well as BAe board (Airbus shareholders at that time) voted to give Airbus an Authorisation To Offer (ATO) and gave the official designation of the aircraft, the A350.

The aircraft obtained its current name during the Farnborough Airshow on July 14th 2006.

On June 14th 2013, the first prototype of A350 flew for 4 hours at Toulouse-Blagnac Airfield, Toulouse, France.

The development cost of the aircraft is estimated to be about USD$ 15 billion.

The flight test program uses five aircraft and lasts about a year. Afterwards, it entered service with Qatar Airways.

Design

Airbus A350 XWB has a number of technological advancements. It is the first Airbus with both fuselage and wing structures manufactured primarily using carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer.

The original idea is to have new aerodynamics and engine while having similar fuselage with A330. However, the idea was rejected by some of Airbus’ prospective customers. Consequently, Airbus decided to rename it to A350 XWB, with XWB denoting Extra-wide Body.

Cockpit and Avionics

Thales Group from France has won US $ 2.9 billion 20-year contract to supply avionics and navigation equipment for A350 XWB after facing competition from Honeywell and Rockwell Collins.

Rockwell Collins (USA) was chosen to supply the horizontal stabilizer actuator while Moog Inc (USA) will supply primary flight control actuation

A350 also features Head-up display (HUD), which is not commonly-found in today’s commercial aircraft.

Engine

A350 XWB has only one engine manufacturer, namely Rolls-Royce. Rolls-Royce has developed a new family of engines to accommodate the needs of A350. The new engine is called Rolls-Royce Trent XWB. It has the largest fan diameter among all mass-produced turbofan engines, even larger than the ones used in A380.

The engine was powered up on the A350 XWB for the first time on June 2nd 2013.

Wings

The new composite wings on A350 is the largest (by surface area) among all single-decked aircraft. Its wingspan is 64.8 m (213 ft) and 4.5 m (15 ft) greater than A330. It is curved, unlike other Airbus aircraft which has wingtip fences.

Cerfitication

  • 2014, September: Airbus A350 XWB received type certification from European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
  • 2014, November: Airbus A350 XWB received type certification from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Seating Capacity

For premium economy class, the seats are arranged for eight abreast 2-4-2 arrangement with 49.5 cm (19.5 in) wide with 5-cm wide arm rest.

Variants

A350-800

The smallest of all three variants, A350-800 is 10 frames shorter than A350-900. Recently Airbus has made recommendations to upgrade to A350-900 for customers who have ordered A350-800.

Baseline MTOW: 248 t (547,000 lb)

Option MTOW: 259 t (571,000 lb)

A350-900

A350-900 is the the first current production variant of A350 XWB. A350-900 has several sub-variants:

  • A350-900
  • A350-900R, extended range variant
  • A350-900ULR, ultra-long range variant
  • ACJ350, corporate jet version of A350. It is derived from A350-900ULR.
  • A350 Regional

Qatar Airways will be the launch customer of A350-900, having ordered a total of 80 A350s of all three variants. It will receive the first A350-800 in December 2014.

Comparison with Boeing 777-200 ER:

16% lower MWE per seat

30% decrease block fuel per seat

25% better cash operating cost

A350-1000

The largest of A350 XWB, A350-1000 is a stretched version of A350 with 11-frame stretch. Its wings have 4% increase in surface area. It is designed to seat 350 passengers in three-class cabin with and 9-abreast configuration. Airbus intends to compete with Boeing 777-300 ER and replace A340-600 with the introduction of the new variant.

Cathay Pacific will be its launch customer.

Technical Specifications of A350-1000

  • Length: 74 m
  • Main landing gear: 6-wheel bogie
  • Engine thrust: 97,000 lbf / 430 kN (RR Trent XWB)

Airbus A350 XWB Usage

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways is the launch customer of A350XWB, having ordered 43 A350-900 and 37 A350-1000, totalling 80 aircraft orders. It will receive its first A350 XWB by end of the year 2014.

  • Ordered: 80 (43 A350-900, 37 A350-100)
  • Delivered: Unknown

 

AirAsia X

AirAsia X plans to have 10 of A350-900s in its fleet, scheduled to be delivered in 2016. The airline plans to customize its fleet of A350s to seat more than 400 passengers in a two-class layout.

  • Ordered: 10 A350-900
  • Delivered: 0

 

Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines will take delivery of its first A350 XWB by end of 2017. Consequently, it has signed an agreement on 21 March 2017 with Airbus Asia Training Centre (AATC) in Singapore to provide training for its flight crew.

  • Ordered: 6 (from Air Lease Corporation)
  • Delivered: 0

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines is one of its earliest customers, having ordered 20 A350 XWB with option for another 20.

 

Incidents & Accidents

Throughout the development, there is not incident recorded yet with A350 XWB. Several airlines are already using the aircraft at the moment. air, currently there is no report about any incident or accident.

Future plans

Cathay Pacific will be the launch customer of A350-1000 variant. However, no delivery has been recorded for that particular variant.

Airbus has proposed the extended range version of A350-900. However, the variant (extended range version) has not been launched yet. The range is estimated to be at 17,600 km (9,500 nmi) and capable for non-stop flights from London-Heathrow (LHR) to Auckland.

Additional links

  1. Airbus A350 on Wikipedia
  2. Airbus A350 on Airbus.com
  3. Airbus A350 on Modernairliners.com