Home' Asian Aviation : AAV July August 2010 Contents 30 AsianAviation | JULY--AUGUST 2010
ABritish axiom has it that a sign of
approaching middle age is that you
obser ve that "policemen appear
to be getting younger". Perhaps
in aerospace circles, incipient
maturity occurs when one realises
that "new" aircra types have actually been in ser vice
for several years and that previous-generation designs
have been around for almost 50 years.
For many aviation-industry veterans, it seems but
a moment since the mighty Airbus A380 rst le the
ground and scarcely ve minutes from its launch, but
already the European manufacturer is preparing to
deliver its next new jetliner design, within about three
years from now.
e A350 XWB (standing for 'extra wide body') is
a programme that encompasses at least three models,
aimed at competing against Boeing's new 787 -- now
in ight-test and scheduled to enter ser vice in about
six months' time. e new Airbus is also an alternative
to some variants of the Boeing 777 -- a design already
in commercial ser vice for some 15 years.
Airbus began to build the rst A350 during 2009
and is hard at work putting up nal-assembly plants
in France, Germany, and the UK. e XWB label is
a reminder that the manufacturer's rst entry under
this model number retained the established cabin
cross-section (which the company had launched with
its A300, 40 years ago) before giving way to industry
pressure for the development of a wider airframe.
As currently planned, stretched, high-density A350s
con gured for ten-abreast seating (a " rst" for Airbus)
will be able to carry as many as 475 occupants.
Series 800, 900, and 1000 variants (roughly
in uenced by Boeing nomenclature for various 787
models) will provide a "single family, well-positioned
for a market [of ] over 5,000 aircra [with] the right
capacity mix [and] right cross section," according to
A350 Product-Marketing Director Sophie Pendaries.
As of the beginning of June, Airbus has formally
booked orders for some 530 units of the A350, from
more than 30 customers.
Considering the current 250- and 300-seat
market, Pendaries says that some 33 operators y a
combination of Airbus A330-200s and -300s, A340-
300s, and Boeing 777-200ERs. She claims the initial
A350-800 and -900 models will boost productivity
and pro tability, the new series o ering "25% better
cash-operating cost per seat" than the competing 777.
Together, the A350-900 and its later and larger -1000
sibling are designed for growth and consolidation,
according to Pendaries.
Airbus has completed detailed design of the
initial A350-900 variant that will accommodate 314
passengers in a three-class con guration. Initial parts
have been made and major development testing is
under way, says A350 Deputy Chief Engineer Alain
e next model will be the Series 800, scheduled
for service entry in 2014. is will o er 270 seats --
some 50 more than aboard the "equivalent" Boeing
787-700. A350-800 detail de nition has begun, the
design having been frozen in late 2009. ese rst
two variants will provide "up to 900 nautical miles"
more range than the 787-800 and 787-900, according
e 350-seat A350-1000 variant remains at the
concept stage, with design-freeze expected next year
and entry into ser vice in 2015. e 84,000lb thrust
Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-84 engine will power A350-
800s and -900s (with an optional 79,000lb rating),
while the bigger Series 1000 is to be powered by larger
93,000lb thrust XWB-93s.
Flexible size, range
Pendaries sees the A350 family opening routes and
new markets with "true long range" through its "size
and range exibility", while o ering step-change
economics and efficiency on regional ser vices.
Arguing that the A350 will set "the right [cabin] size
for future comfort" requirements, Pendaries looks
back 30 years to 240-passenger Boeing 767-300ER,
which o ered "cradle seats" and the A330-200 with
its "cocoon" seats.
By 2020, the equivalent-sized A350-800 will
provide full- atbed seats in business and premium-
A major contribution to the claimed e ciency
improvements is provided by the A350's "extra-wide
Airbus A350 takes aim at 787, 777
Less than three years after the Airbus A380 entered service, the manufacturer is well advanced with
preparations for its next product -- the three-model A350 family, successor to the manufacturer's first
generation of twin-aisle twinjets. Ian Goold reports.
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