ROUTES EUROPE: Airbus Unveils the First A350 XWB

Painting of the first Airbus A350 XWB ‘MSN001’ has been fully completed and the aircraft emerged in its Airbus livery from the paintshop at Toulouse Blagnac Airport on May 13, 2013.  This latest milestone shows that ‘MSN001’ is progressing well on its route to first flight, expected to take place before the end of the second quarter.

The aircraft painting was achieved in less than seven days and follows the recent completion of ‘MSN001’s’ flight-test-instrumentation (FTI) verification.  Last month the aircraft underwent its engines installation, and passed a subsequent intensive phase of ground vibration tests. Airbus confirms that ‘MSN001’ will soon start the final tests before its maiden flight this summer.

The A350 Family provides a long-range capability with seating capacities from 250 to 400-plus passengers.  This enables airlines to best match their A350 XWB fleets to route capacity demands, guaranteeing optimum revenue potential and excellent operating efficiency, according to Airbus.  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 will accommodate 270 passengers, while the A350-900 and the A350-1000 will 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 will be equipped with more powerful Trent XWB engines – which will be fully optimised for this largest member of the A350 XWB Family.  The enhanced Trent XWB will deliver 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 – will enable 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 manufacturer currently has orders for 616 A350 XWBs, comprising 92 -800s, 414 -900s and 110 – 1000s.  Qatar Airways and Emirates Airline and the leading customers with orders for 80 and 70 aircraft, respectively, although nine other customers have placed firm deals 20 plus units – Aeroflot, ALC, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, ILFC, Singapore Airlines, TAM Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.

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Airbus has orders for 616 A350 XWBs, comprising 92 -800s, 414 -900s and 110 – 1000s.

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