Browsing 'Airbus A350' News

Brian Candy

After clearing 14 months of trials, Airbus has said its newest aircraft, the A350, is preparing for the delivery of its first plane by the end of this year.

As the long-haul aircraft’s biggest customer, Qatar Airways will be the first airline to receive and fly the new planes. The national carrier has plans to purchase 80 of the aircraft, in a mixture of three models:

  • The 315-seater A350-900 (QR has ordered 43); and
  • The 369-seater A350-1000 (QR has ordered 37)

The latter model is not due to enter service until 2017. According to Airbus, final documentation and reviews are now underway to obtain certification for the A350s.

As of July 2014, the A350 has received a total of 742 orders. That’s slightly less than Airbus had expected, following the sudden cancelation of a 70-plane order from Emirates earlier this summer.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker previously told reporters that after the first A350 delivery, the airline expects to receive nine aircrafts by next year, followed by one a month month in 2016 and two a month in 2017.

Each A350-900 is estimated to cost around $277.7 million.

World tour — the final trial

A350 touchdown in Doha

Qatar Airways

A350 touchdown in Doha

During the testing phase, the A350 landed in 14 different cities on one route, via the North Pole.

Tests were broken down into four trials, all beginning and ending in Toulouse, France, where Airbus is headquartered.

The aircraft landed at Doha’s Hamad International Airport (HIA) in February, stopping over for two days while various checks took place. At the time, HIA was not yet open for commercial use.

During the 20-day tour, the A350 flew approximately 151,300km in some 180 flight hours. All flights were on schedule, according to Airbus.

Fernando Alonso, senior vice president of flight & integration tests, said in a statement:

“The aircraft has performed remarkably well confirming the high level of maturity that it has been demonstrating all the way during our development and certification tests. We are set for the Type Certification in the coming weeks, as planned.

I truly believe that the aircraft is fit to enter into service and perform to the expectations of our customers.”

Five development A350s were actively involved in Airbus’ intensive flight test program, which had already accumulated over 540 flights and 2,250 flight hours prior to the tour.

According to Airbus, the A350 test program has resulted in Airbus achieving its highest flying rate recorded during flight tests.

A350 specifications

Airbus has touted the new planes, which can seat 275-369 people, as more fuel efficient than their current long-range competitor, the 254-seater Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

In terms of passenger comfort, the A350 boasts 18-inch wide seats in economy, extra headroom, wider panoramic windows and larger overhead storage spaces.

With a cabin cross-section of 220 inches from armrest to armrest, the A350 business and first class seating is five inches wider than its nearest competitor, Airbus said.

Airbus

Airbus also claims that high-precision air management systems installed on planes, ensuring that total cabin air is renewed every two to three minutes.

Thoughts?

Note: This article has been corrected to reflect that QR is not ordering any A350-800s. Seating measurements have also been edited.

With reporting from Gazanfarulla Khan

Airbus’ newest aircraft, the A350, has made its Qatar debut today with a flying display at Doha’s unopened Hamad International Airport (HIA).

Qatar Airways will be the first airline to fly the plane, which is due to carry commercial passengers toward the end of this year.

Qatar’s national airline is also the A350’s largest customer, with 80 of the aircraft on order in a mixture of two models – the 300-seater A350-900; and its larger cousin, the A350-1000. The latter model is not due to enter service until 2017, and will seat up to 350 passengers in three classes.

This makes it larger than the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which seats 254, and puts it in the same league as the national carrier’s largest A330 aircraft, which carry up to 305 passengers. Additionally, the airline’s soon-to-be-delivered first A380 will carry 517 passengers in three classes.

Journalists were given a tour of the interior of the A350 today, a test model whose interior has not been completed. They were also treated to an air display, with the A350 being put through a series of impressive maneuvers in front of a VIP crowd.

The aircraft will remain in Doha for two days so that Airbus can carry out some unspecified checks, and will return in June to test its performance during the summer heat.

Delivery ‘later this year’

Speaking to journalists at today’s event, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said the airline was “working very closely” with Airbus to receive its first A350 “later this year,” but declined to give a specific date.

After this first delivery, he said that the airline expected to receive nine A350s next year, followed by one new aircraft a month in 2016, and two aircraft a month in 2017.

Each A350-900 is estimated to cost around $277.7 million.

Yesterday, Al Baker visited the Airbus factory in Toulouse to inspect the first A350 to carry the Qatar Airways logo.

a350

Airbus

The livery is somewhat different to the usual grey and maroon color scheme, as it’s been painted in a “Launch Customer” design, a hybrid of Qatar Airways’ and Airbus logos and colors.

This aircraft was not flown to Doha to be displayed today, but it will be shown at the Singapore Air Show next week.

Fate of HIA

Though today’s event was held at the HIA, there is still no official word on exactly when the city’s much-delayed new airport will open its doors to customers.

The latest update was given last month, when the chairman of the Hamad International Airport (HIA) steering committee, Abdul Aziz Mohammad Al-Noaimi, said that the airport was “on track for a phased opening by mid-year 2014.”

He emphasized that the delay was not related to safety or security problems, but was in fact due to issues with contractors, adding that the airport’s premium lounges “still need some work.”

Speaking today, Al Baker told journalists that the A350 event had been “a unique glimpse into the exciting developments around the corner” for the new airport’s air traffic and ground control staff.

Thoughts?