I have to admit I am very excited by the Airbus 350. It has been built on the technologies developed for Airbus A380 with a similar cockpit and fly-by-wire systems layout. I am seriously in love with the A380, a plane that just feels like it wants to fly. I expect, therefore, to be wowed by the 350. And I have seen myself up to recently, as a Boeing man! The 350 is designed as a direct competitor to the Boeing 787 for the 250 to 400 seat market.
Yesterday the 350 enjoyed it’s first ever flight from Toulouse, France. Peter Chandler, chief test pilot said during the four hour flight: “The aircraft is behaving extremely well.”
Airbus will test five 350s over a 12 to 18 month period. The first airline to take delivery will be Qatar Airways in late 2014. Qatar have ordered 80 of the type.
They will be joined by 32 other airlines including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Hawaiian, United and US Airways who have ordered 617 A350s. This compares with the 890 Boeing 787s on order.
Like their competitor the 787, the 350 uses a high percentage of composite materials (53% -compared with 50% in the 787)? These materials are the key to reducing the weight of the plane.
Airbus is promoting a 3 class layout in the 350-900 seating 314 people.
The 350’s internal diameter is 5.61 metres (18.4 feet)wide. This is a little wider than the 787 which is 5.49 m (18.0 ft). Standard nine-abreast configuration in economy in a 3–3–3 will allow a 18 inch seat width compared to the 17.3 of the 787. Eight-abreast in a premium economy 2–4–2 arrangement layout would give a 49.5cm (19.5 inch) seat width. Six abreast in Business. Airbus have also demonstrated what they call a High efficient layout with 10 abreast. High sardine layout more like it.
Airbus promises more headroom, larger overhead storage space and wider windows than any current Airbus plane.
The A350 wing has a wingspan of 64.8m (213 ft) and an area of 443 m2 (4,770 sq ft), the largest wing ever produced for a single-deck widebody aircraft. The geometric wingspan of 64.8 m (213 ft). The wing tip curves upwards over the final 4.4 metres (14 ft)
Typical cruise speed is estimated to be Mach 0.85 and maximum operating speed to Mach 0.89. Airbus intends an ETOPS capability of 350 minutes.
And the cost for this beauty? Around a quarter of a billion dollars!
Let’s hope that Airbus have an easier time with the 350 than Boeing have has with the 787.