Airbus A350 Winglet
Credit: Joao Carlos Medau via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The blended winglets of Airbus A350 in special carbon livery.

With both Airbus and Boeing settling for redesigning their older models than developing a newer aircraft, the brand new Airbus A350 is probably going to the last commercial jet plane in the class this generation might fly in.

The Airbus A350 XWB is the latest aircraft in commercial aviation and is the result of over 10 years of research, planning and development, accompanied by over $15 billion in funds.

History, Development and Orders for Airbus A350

  1. The Airbus A350 was initially to be called A330-lite. The project of building a completely new plane started way back in 2004.[1]
  2. The original delivery date of Airbus A350 was scheduled to be in mid-2013. The total development cost was about $15 billion.
  3. Airbus A350 XWB seats a minimum of 250 passengers to a maximum of astounding 550 passengers in a single seating configuration. This depends on the variant of the aircraft.
  4. There are three different variants in the A350 XWB family: A350-800, A350-900 and A350-1000. Airbus A350-900 is the first variant to be manufactured and it entered full commercial service in January 2014.[2]
  5. As of 2014 end, 780 planes have been ordered by 41 different airline companies in the world.[3]

First Flight and Commercial Operations

  1. Qatar Airways is the launch customer of Airbus A350, entering service with its -900 variant. Airbus delivered the first A350 to this gulf airliner on December 18, 2014. This first aircraft carries the registration number A7-ALA.[4]
  2. Qatar Airways has orders for 79 more A350 aircrafts.[3]
Airbus A350 QatarCredit: EDDIE via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

An A350-900 aircraft to be delivered to Qatar Airways

Photo by Eddie via Flickr

  1. Full commercial operations began on January 15, 2015 with the first flight from Doha in Qatar to Frankfurt in Germany. Qatar Airways operates the A350 XWB flight QR67 from Doha and the return flight from Frankfurt as QR68.[5]

A350 First Commercial Flight Doha to Frankfurt

 A passenger view of Doha city on A350's first flight to Frankfurt

Photo by Sam Chui/YouTube

  1. The A350 is capable of flying at a maximum speed of 945 kmph or 587 mph (510 knots) at a height of 40,000 feet above sea level.
A350 test flightCredit: Mark Harkin via Flickr

An A350 flying at 38,000 feet on its test flight

Photo by Mark Harkin via Flickr

  1. A350 can fly up to 14,350 km without any fuel stop.[2]
  2. The Airbus A350 directly competes with Boeing 777X and Boeing 787. However, the 777X series (which is still in a development phase) already has over 286 orders and the 787 has over 1071 orders. [6]
  3. Depending on seating configuration, the economy seating layout can have as little as eight persons per row or 10 persons per row. This is what extra wide body means. The 787 has nine persons in a row while the 777 has ten persons in a single row.[2]
  4. Contrary to the belief, there is NO extra leg room. What it does offer is a mere 0.7 inches of greater seat width. Passengers on the first flight noted that this slight increase was of great notice. As Airbus likes to say, XTRA makes difference![7]

Cockpit, Engine and Fuel Efficiency

RR XWB Trent EngineCredit: Rolls Royce

Photo by Rolls-Royce

  1. Two Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines produce 97,000 lbs of thrust. This brings the engine output on par with Boeing 777-300ER.[8][9]
  2. The engine itself has five different variants to be fitted as per the customer's requirement. The minimum is XWB-75 variant which produces 72,200 lbs of force and the maximum is XWB-97 that produces 97,000 lbs of force. Qatar Airways' first A350 was fitted with Trent XWB-84 engine that produces a maximum of 84,200 lbs of thrust at takeoff.[8]
  3. The engine is designed to be more efficient on the ground, which delivers more than 25 percent in fuel savings for the airline.[9]
Airbus A350 in SydneyCredit: Nick Wu via Flickr

Photo by Nick Wu via Flickr

  1. The engines have the lowest carbon emissions for any wide body airliner in the class, with reductions in pollutants and greenhouse gases like Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Monoxide and Hydrocarbons.[9]
A350 TailCredit: Joao Carlos Medau via Flickr

Photo by Joao Carlos Medau via Flickr

  1. The avionics is designed to operate more than 40 functions. In comparison, the avionics of A380 is designed to manage only 23 different functions.[2]
Cockpit of A350Credit: Joao Carlos Medau via Flickr

Photo by Joao Carlos Medau via Flickr

  1. The cockpit also has a head-up display.[2] This means that the pilot can see the vital parameters and characteristics of the flight like speed, altitude, angle of attack on the windshield ahead without having to look at the primary display.

An A350 Souvenier

Daron Skymarks Airbus House A350-900 Model Kit (1/200 Scale)
Amazon Price: $39.99 $28.88 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 13, 2015)

With over 750 orders already from airline companies from all over the world, A350 is sure to have a long life. Airline operators love its fuel efficient engines which emit less carbon, light composite body which aids to savings in fuel costs and extra cabin space which ensures passenger comfort.

Experience the inaugural flight of the Airbus A350 XWB

The very first commercial flight from Doha to Frankfurt.