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Airbus A350 XWB

Airbus A350 XWB Finnair at Amsterdam Schiphol

Finnair was the first European A350 operator. Its first commercial flight, on 9 October 2015, was to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Airbus A350 XWB

The Airbus A350 XWB is a mid-size long-haul widebody airliner seating 270 to 350 passengers. It is Airbus's newest widebody aircraft and a replacement for the A340. The A350 competes with both the Boeing 777 and the 787 Dreamliner.

When the success of the Boeing 787 took shape after its launch in April 2004 with lots of airline orders, Airbus management publicly admitted that 'it was caught sleeping'. At first, in 2004, the Airbus managers thought they could simply counter the 787 with a 'warmed-up' version of the A330, the same aircraft with new engines and improved aerodynamics.

Airbus' proposal didn't impress the airlines, however, and Airbus worked out a further improved design, which was officially launched as 'A350' in October 2005. This A350 incorporated a new wing, new engines and other improvements, but it was still based on the A330's fuselage. Airlines and leasing companies commented that it was still not good enough. They wanted a 'clean-sheet' design. In 2006, after listening to the criticism, Airbus decided to develop an all-new airliner designated 'A350 XWB' (Xtra Wide Body). The fuselage of the new design was, as the name suggests, wider 31 cm (12 inch) than that of the A330, and even a little wider than that of the Boeing 787. But not as wide as the fuselage of the 777.

Maiden flight

Airbus A350 first flight The maiden flight of the A350 took place on 14 June 2013 from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (Photo: Airbus) and in December 2014 Qatar Airways received its first aircraft of 80 ordered. On 15 January 2015, the airline performed the A350's first commercial flight from Doha to Frankfurt.

Like the 787, the A350 has an all-composite fuselage. The cabin offers higher cabin pressure and humidity than older airliners for better passenger comfort, and the cabin windows are bigger than those of the A300, although not as big as on the 787. The A350's fuselage has an ovoid cross section and it has a constant width from door 1 to door 4 to provide maximum usable cabin volume. The cabin allows eight-, nine- or even ten-abreast seating. The 787 has room for eight or nine seats per row and the 777 seats nine or ten passengers per row. In the highest-density layout, the A350-900 version can carry up to 440 passengers and the stretched A350-1000 550.

The wing, constructed of carbon fibre, has an upwards curved tip instead of wingtip fences or winglets like earlier Airbus aircraft have. The A350-1000 has a slightly adapted wing with a 4 per cent increase in surface area compared with the A350-900. Airbus offers only one engine option: the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB.

The A350 has a newly designed nose section. In early designs, Airbus proposed a four-panel windshield, but later it chose for six panels. The cockpit has a new six-screen configuration with two central displays mounted one above the other. The A350 also features a head-up display (HUD), a transparent display which presents flight data to the pilots while they can keep looking outside instead of turning their heads and eyes down on the instrument panel. This makes landing easier in adverse weather. After the problems the Boeing 787 faced with its lithium-ion batteries, Airbus chose to deliver the first A350s with older nickel-cadmium technology, but later it once again chose for lithium-ion batteries.

Airbus originally planned three main versions of the A350: the A350-800, -900 and -1000. However, the A350-800, the smallest variant intended to seat 276 passengers, was canceled after the launch of the A330neo. Airlines that had signed for the -800 version swapped their orders to the larger A350-900 of canceled them.

The standard A350-900 seats 314 passengers in a three-class layout and has a range of 15,000 km (8,100 nm). It competes with the longest version of the Boeing 787, the 787-10.

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Airbus A350-1000 XWB first flight The stretched A350-1000, intended to compete with the Boeing 777, measures almost 74 metres from nose to tail (73.78 m to be exactly, 242.1 ft). That is 7,00 metres longer than the standard A350-900. In a typical three-class configuration, the A350-1000 seats 366 passengers and in a high-density layout up to 440. The maiden flight of the A350-1000 took place on 24 November 2016 (Photo: Airbus) and the first delivery, to Qatar Airways, on 20 February 2018.

The A350-1000 is fitted with two much more powerful Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, the only engine option for the airliner. With 431.5 kN (97,000 lb) of thrust on take-off this is the most powerful engine ever developed for an Airbus aircraft. The A350-1000 aircraft is capable to fly long routes of up to 14,800 km (7,990 nm).

The main undercarriage legs of the A350-900 have four wheels each. The A350-1000 has six-wheel bogies, like the 777, and the heavier variant of the A350-900, the A350-900ULR (Ultra Long Range) has them too. The A350-900ULR took off for its first flight from Toulouse Blagnac Airport on 23 April 2018. The first customer for this version is Singapore Airlines. The ULR has 24,000 litres of extra fuel capacity and offers 1,600 nm extra range over the standard A350-900. This makes it possible to fly non-stop between Singapore and New York. Singapore Airlines received its first A350-900ULR on 23 September 2018 and on 12 October 2018, it landed at Newark airport for the first time after a flight from Singapore of 17 h 52 min over 16,562 km (8,943 nmi).

On the drawing boards is a 4 m further stretched version, seating up to 45 more passengers and 308 t maximum takeoff weight, to compete wieht the Boeing 777-9. This 'A350-1100' is not launched yet. Airbus has also a future A350neo in mind, fitted with more advanced engines.

Until early 2019, Airbus collected almost 900 firm orders for the A350, including 170 A350-1000s.

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Airbus A350-900 Specifications

Airbus A350 Singapore Airlines Wingspan: 64.75 m (212 ft 4 in). Length: 66.8 m (242 ft 7 in). Height: 17.05 m (55 ft 11 in).
Empty weight: 134.700-145.100 kg (297,000-320,000 lb). Max. take-off weight: 280,000 kg (617,295 lb).
Accommodation: 325-440 passengers. Range: 15,000 km (8,100 nm). Cruise speed: 903 km/h (488 kts).
Engines: two Rolls-Royce Trent XWB turbofans (374.5 kN - 84,200 lb).

Airbus A350-1000 Specifications

Airbus_A350_Asiana Wingspan: 64.75 m (212 ft 4 in) Length: 73.78 m (242 ft 7 in). Height: 17.08 m (56 ft 0 in).
Empty weight: 155,000 kg (342,400 lb). Max. take-off weight: 311,000 kg (685,638).
Accommodation: 366-550 passengers. Range: 14,750 km (7,950 nm). Cruise speed: 903 km/h (488 kts).
Engines: two Rolls-Royce Trent XWB turbofans (431.5 kN - 97,000 lb).


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