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Airbus A350


A350-941 F-WXWB during its maiden flight on 14 June 2013


The A350 was originally conceived in 2004 with new aerodynamics and engines while having a fuselage based on the A330. This was rejected by some prospective customers.

The original version of the A350 superficially resembled the A330 due to its common fuselage cross-section and assembly. A new wing, engines and a horizontal stabiliser were to be coupled with new composite materials and production methods applied to the fuselage to make the A350 an almost all-new aircraft. On 10 December 2004, the boards of EADS and BAE Systems, then the shareholders of Airbus, gave Airbus an "authorisation to offer (ATO)", and formally named it the A350.

The A350 was planned to be a 250- to 300-seat twin-engine wide-body aircraft derived from the design of the existing A330. Under this plan, the A350 would have modified wings and new engines, while sharing the same fuselage cross-section as its predecessor. As a result of a controversial design, the fuselage was to consist primarily of Al-Li, rather than the carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) fuselage on the 787. It was to see entry in two versions: the A350-800 capable of flying 8,800 nmi (16,300 km) with typical passenger capacity of 253 in three-class configuration and the 300-seat (3-class) A350-900 with 7,500 nmi (13,900 km) range. It was designed to be a direct competitor to the 787-9, and 777-200ER. Development costs were projected to be €12 billion (US$15 billion or £10 billion).

Airbus faced criticism on the A350 project from the heads of two of their largest customers, International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) and GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS). Called "a Band-aid reaction to the 787", and "Having gone through the trouble of designing a new wing, tail, cockpit" and adding advanced new materials, Airbus "should have gone the whole hog and designed a new fuselage." Airbus responded by stating they were considering improvements for the A350 to satisfy customer demands.

In 2006, Airbus renamed it the A350 XWB (extra wide body). The A350 is the first Airbus with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer. It can carry 250 to 350 passengers in a typical three-class seating layout, or maximum seating of 440 to 550 passengers, depending on variant. There was some previous speculation that the revised aircraft would be called the Airbus A370 or A280, with Airbus going as far as accidentally publishing an advertisement referring to the model as the "A280" on the Financial Times's website.

On 13 June 2005 at the Paris Air Show, Middle Eastern carrier Qatar Airways announced that they had placed an order for 60 A350s. In September 2006 the airline signed a memorandum of understanding with General Electric to launch the GEnx-1A-72 for the aircraft. Emirates sought a more improved design and decided against ordering the initial version of the A350, then placed an order for A350 XWBs in 2007.

In 2006 Singapore Airlines announced an agreement to order 20 A350XWBs with options for another 20 A350XWBs.

The proposed new A350 was a new design also including a wider fuselage cross-section. The new A350 fuselage allows seating arrangements ranging from an 8-abreast low-density premium economy layout to a 10-abreast high-density seating configuration, allowing for a maximum seating capacity of 440–550 depending on variant. All A350 passenger models will have a range of at least 8,000 nmi (15,000 km). The redesigned composite fuselage provides higher cabin pressure and humidity, and lower maintenance costs.

On 1 December 2006, the Airbus board of directors approved the industrial launch of the A350-800, -900 and -1000 variants. First delivery for the A350-900 was scheduled for mid-2013, with the −800 and −1000 following on 12 and 24 months later, respectively. At a 4 December 2006 press conference, a few new technical details of the A350 XWB design were revealed, but no new customers were identified. Airbus indicated existing A350 contracts were under re-negotiation due to increases in prices compared to the original A350s contracted.

The change to the XWB design imposed a two-year delay into the original timetable and increased development costs from US$5.3 billion (€5.5B) to approximately US$10 billion (€9.7B). As as result the flight test schedule was compressed from the original 15 months to 12 months. A350 programme chief Didier Evrard stressed that the delays only affect the A350-900 and that the -800 and -1000 schedules remain unchanged.

Airbus confirmed in early September 2007 the adoption of composite fuselage frames for the aircraft structure. The composite frames will feature aluminium strips to ensure the electrical continuity of the fuselage (for dissipating lightning strikes). Airbus was to use a full mock up fuselage to develop the wiring, a different approach from the A380, on which the wiring was all done on computers.

Rolls-Royce agreed with Airbus to supply a new variant of the Trent engine for the A350 XWB, named Trent XWB. After the low-speed wind tunnel test, Airbus froze the static thrust at sea level for all three proposed variants in the 330–420 kN (74,000–94,000 lbf) range in 2010.

In January 2008, French-based Thales Group won the US$2.9 billion (€2 billion) 20-year contract to supply avionics and navigation equipment for the A350 XWB. US-based Rockwell Collins and Moog Inc were chosen to supply the horizontal stabiliser actuator and primary flight control actuation, respectively.

Airbus constructed 10 new factories in Western Europe and the US, with extensions carried out on 3 further sites. Among the new buildings was a £570 million (US$760 million or €745 million) composite facility in Broughton, Wales, which would be responsible for the wings. In June 2009, the National Assembly for Wales announced provision of a £28 million grant to provide a training centre, production jobs and money toward the new production centre. Another new construction facility was the composite rudder plant in China, which was opened in early 2011.

Airbus manufactured the first structural component in December 2009 and production of the first fuselage barrel began in late 2010 at its production plant in Illescas, Spain.

The forward fuselage of the first A350 aircraft was delivered to the factory on 29 December 2011. Final assembly of the first A350 static test model was started on 5 April 2012. Final assembly of the first flight-test A350 was completed in December 2012.

On 2 June 2013, Airbus powered up the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines on the A350 aircraft for the first time. The A350's maiden flight took place on 14 June 2013 from the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.

As of December 2013, Airbus had received orders for 812 aircraft from 39 customers.

On 11 June 2014, Emirates cancelled an order for 70 A350s (50 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s), which represented 9% of the A350 production backlog. Emirates president Tim Clark said that the airline was frustrated with the development of the A350-1000, including changes to the A350-1000 engines which were previously shared with the A350-900.

The A350 XWB is made out of 53% composites, 19% Al/Al-Li, 14% titanium, 6% steel and 8% miscellaneous.

October 2008 was the Airbus internal goal to freeze the design and Airbus expects 10% lower airframe maintenance cost and 14% lower empty seat weight than competing aircraft.

The new XWB fuselage has a constant width from door 1 to door 4. The double-lobe (ovoid) fuselage cross-section will have a maximum outer diameter of 5.97 m (19.6 ft), and internal diameter of 5.61 m (18.4 ft) wide at armrest level. It allows for an eight-abreast 2–4–2 arrangement in a premium economy layout, with the seats being 49.5 cm (19.5 in) wide between 5 cm (2.0 in) wide arm rests. In the nine-abreast, 3–3–3 standard economy layout, the XWB's seat width is 45 cm (18 in). Overall, Airbus promises passengers more headroom, larger overhead storage space and wider panoramic windows than current Airbus models.

The A350 features new composite wings with a wingspan that is common to the three proposed variants. With an area of 443 m2 (4,770 sq ft), the wingspan is 64.8 m (213 ft). The wing tip will not have Airbus' traditional wingtip fences, but instead will curve upwards over the final 4.4 metres (14 ft) in a "sabre-like" shape. The wing has a 31.9° sweep angle, helping to increase typical cruise speed to Mach 0.85 and maximum operating speed to Mach 0.89. The A350-1000 have a wing design with about a 4% increase in surface area.

A trailing-edge high-lift system has been adopted with an advanced dropped-hinge flap (similar to that of the A380), which permits the gap between the trailing edge and the flap to be closed with the spoiler.

The wings are produced in a new £400M/46,000 square metres (500,000 sq ft) North Factory at Airbus Broughton, employing 650 workers, in a specialist facility constructed with £29M of support from the Welsh Assembly Government.

The XWB's nose section configuration is derived from the A380 with a forward-mounted nosegear bay and a six-panel flightdeck windscreen. This differs substantially from the four-window arrangement in the original design and enables overhead crew rest areas to be installed further forward and eliminate any encroachment in the passenger cabin. The windscreen was revised to improve vision by reducing the width of the centre post. The upper shell radius of the nose section was increased.

The cockpit adopted 38 cm (15 in) LCD screens. The six-screen configuration having two central displays mounted one above the other (the lower one above the thrust levers) and a single (for each pilot) primary flight/navigation display, with an adjacent on-board information system screen. The A350 XWB also features a head-up display.




The Trent XWB family has two basic engines to power the three A350 variants. The baseline 370 kN (83,000 lbf) thrust version for the A350-900 derated to 330 kN (74,000 lbf) and 350 kN (79,000 lbf) for the −800, upgraded 432 kN (97,000 lbf) thrust version to power the A350-1000. The higher-thrust version will have some modifications to the fan module—it will be the same diameter but will run slightly faster and have a new fan blade design—and run at increased temperatures allowed by new materials technologies from Rolls-Royce's research. The basic 248 t MTOW −800 was to be offered with a 330 kN (74,000 lbf) sea-level-thrust rating, while the 279 t MTOW option to have 350 kN (79,000 lbf) thrust. Airbus also planed to offer a 'hot and high' rating option for Middle Eastern launching customers Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad. This option had an increased thrust of 350 kN (79,000 lbf) at higher altitudes and temperatures.

Engine thrust-reversers and nacelles will be supplied by US-based UTC Aerospace Systems.

The A350 XWB features a 1,268 kW (1,700 shp) Honeywell HGT1700 auxiliary power unit. Honeywell has also supplyed the air management system: the bleed air, environmental control, cabin pressure control and supplemental cooling systems. The ram-air turbine supplied by Hamilton Sundstrand and located in the lower surface of the fuselage. The generator requirement for the ram air turbine is 100 kVA.




In light of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner battery problems, in February 2013 Airbus decided to revert from Lithium-ion to the proven Nickel-cadmium technology although the flight test programme continued with the Lithium-Ion battery systems.

Each main undercarriage leg is attached to the rear wing spar forward and to a gear beam aft, which itself is attached to the wing and the fuselage. To help reduce the loads further into the wing, a double side-stay configuration was adopted.

Airbus devised a three-pronged main undercarriage design philosophy encompassing both four- and six-wheel bogies to ensure it can keep the pavement loading within limits. The A350-800 and A350-900 will both have four-wheel bogies, although the −800's were be slightly shorter to save weight. Both fit in the same 4.1 m (13 ft) long bay. The proposed higher weight variant, the A350-1000 (and the A350-900R, which is being proposed to British Airways, with −900 size but with sufficient fuel capacity to allow nonstop London-Sydney flights) was to use a six-wheel bogey, with a 4.7 m (15 ft) undercarriage bay. French-based Messier-Dowty provide the main undercarriage for the −800 and −900 variant, and UTC Aerospace Systems will supply the −1000 variant. The nose gear will be supplied by Liebherr-Aerospace.


Airbus A350 (MSN001)



Three variants of the A350 were launched in 2006. In July 2012, the A350-900 was scheduled to enter service in the second half of 2014; then the −800 in mid-2016, and −1000 in 2017.



The A350-900 is the first A350 model and seats 314 passengers in a three-class cabin and 9-abreast layout. It has a standard design range target of 15,000 km (8,100 nmi). Airbus says that the A350-900 will have a decrease of 16% MWE per seat, a 30% decrease in block fuel per seat and 25% better cash operating cost than the Boeing 777-200ER. The −900 is designed to compete with the Boeing 777-200ER and replace the Airbus A340-300.

The −900R variant would feature the higher engine thrust, strengthened structure and undercarriage of the −1000. Range of the A350-900R was estimated to 17,600 km (9,500 nmi), which would be boosted to about 19,100 km (10,315 nmi) by design improvements and be capable of non-stop flight from London-Heathrow to Auckland. The −900F freighter variant has also been proposed.


The A350-1000 has an 11-frame stretch over the −900 and was to enter service after the −800. It is the largest variant of the A350 family and was is to seat 350 passengers in a three-class cabin and 9-abreast configuration. It was to have a range of 15,600 km (8,400 nmi).


The A350-1000 will feature a slightly larger wing than the −800/900 models; a trailing-edge extension increasing its area by 4%. This will extend the high-lift devices and the ailerons, making the chord bigger by around 400 mm, optimising flap lift performance as well as cruise performance. These and other engineering upgrades are necessary so that the −1000 model does not suffer a reduction in range.


2006: 2
2007: 292
2008: 163
2009: 51
2010: 78
2011 -31
2012: 27
2013: 230
2014: -62


Airbus has successfully performed certification testing to demonstrate the A350 XWB’s ability to operate on wet runways in May 2014.


A350-900 MSN4


During water-ingestion tests at Istres-Le Tubé Air Base in the south of France, MSN4, one of the flight-test Airbus A350-900 jets, traveled through a trough containing at least a 22-millimeter (0.9-inch) depth of water.


The A350-900 traveled through the trough at a variety of speeds, starting at 60 knots (111 kilometers per hour) and successively increasing to around 140 knots (259 kilometers per hour). This pool measured 100 meters (328 feet) long by 29 meters (95 feet) wide.

The aircraft performed several runs in order to test various situations, including the use of reverse thrust while passing through the water trough.




The first four A350-900s had together accumulated around 1,600 flight-test hours and more than 350 flights by May 2014. A fifth aircraft, MSN5, was to join the flight-test fleet in weeks.



Preliminary A350-800
Cockpit crew: Two
Seating, typical: 440 (maximum)
Overall length: 60.54 m (198.6 ft)
Wingspan: 64.8 m (213 ft)
Wing area: 443 m2 (4,770 sq ft)
Wing sweepback: 31.9°
Overall height: 17.05 m (55.9 ft)
Fuselage width: 5.96 m (19.6 ft)
Seat width: 18.0 in (45.7 cm) std 9 abreast / 16.4 in (41.7 cm) 10 abreast high density economy
Fuselage height: 6.09 m (20.0 ft)
Cabin width: 5.61 m (18.4 ft)
Maximum takeoff weight: 259 t (571,000 lb)
Maximum landing weight: 193 t (425,000 lb)
Maximum zero fuel weight: 181 t (399,000 lb)
Manufacturer's empty weight: 115.7 t (255,100 lb)
Maximum cargo capacity: 28 LD3 or 9 pallets
Cruise speed: M 0.85 (903 km/h, 561 mph, 487 kts, at 40,000 ft
Maximum cruise speed: M 0.89 (945 km/h, 587 mph, 510 kts, at 40,000 ft
Maximum range with pax: 15,300 km (8,260 nmi)
Maximum fuel capacity: 129,000 l (34,100 US gal)
Service ceiling: 43,100 ft (13,100 m)
Engines: 2× RR Trent XWB
Maximum thrust: 351 kN (79,000 lbf)
Preliminary A350-900
Engines: 2× RR Trent XWB
Maximum thrust: 374 kN (84,000 lbf)
Cockpit crew: Two
Seating: 440 (maximum)
Overall length: 66.89 m (219.5 ft)
Wingspan: 64.8 m (213 ft)
Wing area: 443 m2 (4,770 sq ft)
Wing sweepback: 31.9°
Overall height: 17.05 m (55.9 ft)
Fuselage width: 5.96 m (19.6 ft)
Seat width: 18.0 in (45.7 cm) std 9 abreast / 16.4 in (41.7 cm) 10 abreast high density economy
Fuselage height: 6.09 m (20.0 ft)
Cabin width: 5.61 m (18.4 ft)
Maximum takeoff weight: 268 t (591,000 lb)
Maximum landing weight: 205 t (452,000 lb)
Maximum zero fuel weight: 192 t (423,000 lb)
Manufacturer's empty weight: 115.7 t (255,100 lb)
Maximum cargo capacity: 36 LD3 or 11 pallets
Cruise speed: M 0.85 (903 km/h, 561 mph, 487 kts, at 40,000 ft
Maximum cruise speed: M 0.89 (945 km/h, 587 mph, 510 kts, at 40,000 ft
Maximum range with pax: 14,350 km (7,750 nmi)
Maximum fuel capacity: 138,000 l (36,500 US gal)
Service ceiling: 43,100 ft (13,100 m)
Preliminary A350-1000
Engines: 2× RR Trent XWB
Maximum thrust: 431 kN (97,000 lbf)
Cockpit crew: Two
Seating: 475 (maximum)
Overall length: 73.88 m (242.4 ft)
Wingspan: 64.8 m (213 ft)
Wing area: ~460 m2 (5,000 sq ft)
Wing sweepback: 31.9°
Overall height: 17.05 m (55.9 ft)
Fuselage width: 5.96 m (19.6 ft)
Seat width: 18.0 in (45.7 cm) std 9 abreast / 16.4 in (41.7 cm) 10 abreast high density economy
Fuselage height: 6.09 m (20.0 ft)
Cabin width: 5.61 m (18.4 ft)
Maximum takeoff weight: 308 t (679,000 lb)
Maximum landing weight: 233 t (514,000 lb)
Maximum zero fuel weight: 220 t (485,000 lb)
Manufacturer's empty weight: 115.7 t (255,100 lb)
Maximum cargo capacity: 44 LD3 or 14 pallets
Cruise speed: M 0.85 (903 km/h, 561 mph, 487 kts, at 40,000 ft
Maximum cruise speed: M 0.89 (945 km/h, 587 mph, 510 kts, at 40,000 ft
Range with pax: 14,800 km (7,990 nmi)
Maximum fuel capacity: 156,000 l (41,200 US gal)
Service ceiling: 43,100 ft (13,100 m)








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