Countdown to Launch: The Airbus A350 XWB


By, Jack Harty Correspondent Airchive.com

Updated July 15, 2013  12:45PM EDT

The first A350 XWB has flown 92 flight test hours since its initial flight on June 14. Phase 2 of the flight test program will begin next month.

(Details at Bottom)

A350 FLY BY

A350 in the air

This timeline will be continuously updated with all updates to the program as it moves toward official roll-out (which we will cover from Toulouse), first flight, additional orders, major program progress, flight testing, and entry into service. Follow our Twitter and Facebook feeds for updates as well.

Image courtesy: Airbus

Airbus pioneered the wide-body twin engine airliner with the A300 over 40 years ago. Initially ignoring the threat, Boeing responded with the still in production 767. Airbus upped the ante with the A330 and 340 which Boeing answered with the 777. For more than four decades, Airbus and Boeing have been competing in this ever escalating war of the order-books that has resulted in an unmatched rivalry in business and a worldwide duopoly in medium-sized and large airliners. The battle reached fever pitch with the Toulouse/Hamburg A320 family versus the Seattle 737 family. Now, the battle jumps to the next level where the size, and possibly the stakes, are much higher. After the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to leapfrog its own 767 and Airbus’ competing A330, Airbus is at last just about ready to rollout its return salvo to Boeing with the Airbus A350 eXtra-Wide-body (XWB). This is the ultimate “War of the Wide-bodies”, the A350 is an airplane that takes on the Seattle’s revolutionary but troubled 787, its wide-body cash cow 777, and the future 777-X. Who will win the battle and who will win the war? Here’s the “tale of the tape” as of March, 2013: Airbus has over 617 firm orders from 35 customers for the 3 variants of the 350. To put that into perspective, Boeing has over 700 orders and deliveries for the 777-300 alone and nearly 1500 orders and deliveries for the entire 777 program. For the 787, Boeing has over 890 orders with around 50 aircraft already delivered. Clearly, the field is wide open.

Image courtesy: Airbus

When Boeing announced their plans to build the 787 Dreamliner in 2003, many believed the 787 posed a serious threat to the Airbus A330 program. However, Airbus rejected the claims stating that they were not concerned, but, in 2004, Airbus proposed the Airbus A330-200Lite which would have similar aerodynamics to the 787. Shortly after the initial design, many expected the official announcement of the A330-200Lite to be made at the Farnborough International Airshow, but the announcement never came. Nonetheless, Airbus made an announcement after Farnborough, but their announcement was for the Airbus A350.

The A350 design was derived from the A330 but with modified wings, new engines and a fuselage made mostly of Aluminum and Lithium alloys (Al-Li). During the 2005 Paris Air Show, Qatar Airways announced a memorandum of understanding to be the launch customer for the A350, but Emirates saw the design as not going far enough and decided not to place an order. However, the criticism of the A350 design did not stop with Emirates. Two of Airbus’ biggest customers, International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) and GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), were not won over by this more evolutionary design. In early 2006, a few hundred top airline executives listened to ILFC’s President, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, openly condemn the A350, and, shortly after the remarks, then CEO of Singapore Airlines, Chew Choon Seng, reiterated the statements of ILFC’s president. Both ILFC and Singapore Airlines demanded a redesign before these significant customers would open their checkbooks.

Image courtesy: Airbus

Airbus took the criticism to heart, and they began a major review of the A350 design in mid-2006. As they began the review, the crew from Toulouse opted for a wider fuselage design to allow 10 seats across unlike the A330 and 787 which seat 9 across in economy maximum configuration. During the 2006 Farnborough International Airshow, Airbus announced their new design for the A350 XWB (Xtra-Wide-body), and, four days later, Singapore Airlines placed an order for 20 A350 XWB aircraft with options for 20 more. While Singapore was a vocal opponent of the original A350, Seng, Singapore Airlines’ then CEO, was very pleased that Airbus A350 XWB design. Shortly thereafer in 2007, Emirates placed an order for 70 A350 XWBs. While the new design generated praise from customers, the change to the XWB caused the A350 program to be delayed by two years. Further, it was estimated that the A350 program would cost approximately $5.3 billion, but the change to the XWB program will cost Airbus approximately $10 billion. Yet, Airbus’ customers eagerly await the XWB.

While A350 XWB customers await the new aircraft, Boeing is likely close to seeking approval from its board to start taking orders for its direct response to the the A350: A next generation 777, currently referred to as the 777-X which would arrive no earlier then the end of this decade. The A350 competes with the higher capacity 787-9 and 787-10 and initially the 777-200 followed by the 777-300, the world’s best selling twin engine widebody jet airliner. Clearly the stakes of the battle of Seattle vs Toulouse are every bit as high, or not higher then that which pitches the A320 program versus the Boeing 737 program.

We now look at the details of how the A350 improves upon its A330 / 340 predecessors and compares agains the 777 and 787, and what affect the program’s have had and will have on each other.

Image courtesy: Airbus

 

Materials:

Airbus A350 XWB Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Composite 53% 50%
Al/Li 19% 0%
Aluminum 0% 20%
Titanium 14% 15%
Steel 6% 10%
Other 8% 8%

Fuselage:

The A350 XWB fuselage is 53% composite while the A330 fuselage is 11% composite. Each section of the body of the aircraft is divided into four panels, and, should the aircraft sustain significant damage, the four panel concept will allow airlines to easily replace a section of the body.

Image courtesy: Airbus

Wings:

The wings are all composite, and they are the largest ever produced for a single-deck aircraft. The wingspan will be approximately 213 feet long. The wing tips will be 14 feet high in a “sabre-like” shape. In order for the A350 XWB to reach a speed of March .89, the wings are at a 31.9 degree angle.

Image courtesy: Airbus

Cockpit/Avionics:

The cockpit will be configured with two central displays with six screens, and the integrated modular avionics (IMA) concept found on the A380 will be present in the A350 XWB cockpit. Plus, the A350 XWB’s IMA will have forty different functions versus twenty-three on the A380.

Engines:

The A350 XWB will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB Engines with 74,000 to 79,000 pounds of thrust. The fan diameter of the engine will be approximately 118 inches. Due to the Boeing 787 battery problems, Airbus has decided to move to a nickle-cadmium based battery instead of a lithium battery. However, the three test aircraft will use lithium batteries.

Cabin:

At 18’4″, the cabin will be wider then the 787′s 18″ and A330′s 17′ 4″, but not quite as wide as the 19′ 3″ as the 777. It will seat up to 10-abreast in economy as mentioned before. Like the Dreamliner, the cabin will have a 20% more humid atmosphere while flying and will be pressured at or below 6,000 feet. It will also boast larger windows than ever installed on any Airbus aircraft before. BMW is designing the interior for the aircraft based on a contract signed in 2006 which will have new LED lighting, ceiling and sidewall sculpturing as well as upsized overhead bins. Panasonic Avionics Corporation will develop the entertainment system based on a contract signed in 2010.

Image courtesy: Airbus

Airbus A350-800 XWB

As the smallest member of the family, The A350-800 XWB is being designed to directly compete with the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, secondarily with the 787-8, and replace the A330-200. It also fills in the gap of the 767-300 and 767-400. The -800 will be able to seat 270 passengers in a 3-class 9-abreast layout. The engines will be Rolls-Royce Trent XWB Engines with 74,000 pounds of thrust each, and the A350-800 XWB will have a range of 8,500 nm/15,700 km. The overall length will be 198.6 feet and the wingspan will be 212 feet, 5 inches. The A350-800 fuselage length is nearly in the middle of the 787-8′s 186 foot and 787-9′s 20 foot long fuselages. The -800 will be the 2nd variant to roll out, fly, and enter service. The -800 has been the least ordered variant thus far, accounting for just 92 of the program’s 617 orders as of February, 2013.

Image courtesy: Airbus

Airbus A350-900 XWB

The first version to roll out, The A350-900 XWB is being designed to directly compete with the Boeing 777-200ER and replace the A330-300 and to some degree the A340-300. Further, it is estimated that the -900 will be 25% more efficient than the Boeing 777-200ER. The -900 will be able to seat 314 passengers in a 3-class configuration. The engines will be Rolls-Royce Trent XWB Engines with 84,000 pounds of thrust each, and the A350-900 XWB will have a range of 8,100 nm/15,000 km. The overall length will be stretched by 20 feet over the -800 at 219 feet, 6 inches while the wingspan will be unchanged at 212 feet 5 inches. The fuselage length of the -900 is 10 feet longer then the 777-200ER. The 900 is far and away the most popular in the range, with 415 firm orders as of February 2013, which has resulted in the majority of the 350s 617 firm orders.

Image courtesy: Airbus

Airbus A350-1000 XWB

The A350-1000 XWB is being designed to directly compete with the Boeing 777-300ER and replace the A340-600. Further, it is estimated that the -1000 will be 25% more efficient than the Boeing 777-300ER. The -1000 will be able to seat 350 passengers in a 3-class configuration. The engines will be Rolls-Royce Trent XWB Engines with 84,000 pounds of thrust each, and the A350-1000 XWB will have a range of 8,400 nm/15,600 km. The overall length will be stretched more then 20 feet over the -900 to 242.4 feet while the wingspan remains at 212 feet 5 inches. For all practical purposes, the 777-300ER and A350XWB-1000 are the same length yet the 777 still has the slightly wider cabin. The -1000 will be the 3rd variant to fly. The ultra-large capacity -1000 has achieved 110 orders as of March 2013 making it the second best seller in the A350 XWB range.

Image courtesy: Airbus

Timeline:

2006

July 16- Airbus announced plans for the Airbus A350 XWB. The XWB stands for Xtra-Wide-body.

November 30- The A350 XWB program received the go ahead to begin building the first A350 XWB aircraft.

 

2007

January 9- Didier Evrard was appointed to head the Airbus A350 XWB program.

March 7- Finnair became the first airline to place a firm order for the A350 XWB which will be for 11 A350-800 XWBs.

Image courtesy: Airbus
March 21- Aeroflot commits to 22 A350-800 XWBs

May 29- Qatar Airways placed an order for 80 A350 XWBs, and the order was confirmed at the Paris Air Show on June 17, 2007 (20 orders for the A350-800, 40 for the A350-900 and 20 for the A350-1000). Qatar will be the first airline to fly the A350 XWB in service.

June 5- Aer Lingus placed an order for 6 A350-800 XWBs.

June 17- ALAFCO placed an order for 12 A350-800 XWBs. US Airways confirmed an order for 22 A350-800 XWBs.

June 19- CIT Aerospace confirmed an order for 7 A350-800 XWBs, and Kingfisher announced an order for 15 A350-800 XWBs. Libyan Airlines placed an order for four A350-800 XWBs, while Aeroflot placed an order for 22 A350-800 XWBs, and Afriqiyah Airways placed an order for 6 A350-800 XWBs.

June 21- Singapore Airlines placed an order for 20 A350-900 XWBs.

Image courtesy: Airbus

June 28- TAM placed an order for 22 A350 XWBs.

August 24- Airbus introduced high-lift devices to deliver better low-speed performance and save fuel. The high-lift devices will use the flaps and spoilers to create more lift during takeoff and landing, and the advanced flap concept will decreasing drag at cursing altitude.

September 30- Vietnam Airlines placed an order for 10 A350-900 XWBs.

October 4- US Airways confirmed an order for 22 A350 XWBs.

Image courtesy: Airbus

October 25- International Lease Finance Company ordered 20 A350 XWBs.

November 10- Despite finding the initial A350 design weak, Emirates placed an order 65 A350-800 XWB and 20 A350-1000 XWB aircraft.

Image courtesy: Airbus

November 12- Yemenia placed an order for 10 A350-800 XWBs.

November 21- Airbus announced they will use conceptual fluid dynamics to shape the components (like the wings and tail) of the A350.

November 25- TAP placed an order for 15 A350 XWBs.

November 28- Hawaiian Airlines ordered 6 A350-800 XWBs.

 

2008

February 12- Synergy Aerospace ordered 10 A350-800 XWBs

April 10- Aer Lingus placed an order for 6 A350-900 XWBs

April 28- Tunisair ordered 3 A350-800 XWB aircraft

May 14- Airbus awarded the contract for the design and manufacturing of the center fuselage to Spirit AeroSystems.

July 9- Wind tunnel testing for the A350 begins.

July 13- Etihad Airways placed an order for 25 A350-800 XWBs.

Image courtesy: Airbus

July 15- Asiana Airlines placed an order for 30 A350-800 XWBs.

July 16- Synergy Aerospace placed an order for 10 A350-800 XWBs.

November 6- Grupo Marsans placed a firm order for 10 A350-900 XWBs.

 

2009

January 13- Airbus began construction on the Final Assembly Line for the Airbus A350 XWB. The building will have an area of 74,000 meters.

January 29- Airbus engineers in India began to develop a simulated flight management system which is scheduled to be complete at the end of 2009. Also, Airbus signed a joint venture contract to establish a manufacturing center for aircraft composites in Harbin, China.

June 15- AirAsia X ordered 10 A350-900 XWBs, and Vietnam Airlines added two more A350 XWBs to their order.

July 28- Ethiopian Airlines ordered 12 A350-900 XWBs.

Image courtesy: Airbus

August 7- Airbus completed a second test fuselage section.

September 29- The wing tester, the “demo box 2” is successfully tested the wings of the A350 XWB.

December 4- The first composite lay-up of the A350 XWB started being put together in Nantes, France.

 

2010

January 14- Harbin Hafei Airbus Commercial Manufacture Centre was awarded the contract to make the elevators for the A350 XWB.

March 10- United signed a firm order for 20 A350-900 XWB aircraft.

May 13- Airbus began to validate a new three-dimensional process for the A350 XWB electrical harness installation.

June 8- TAM placed an order for five A350-900 XWB aircraft.

June 11- Airbus delivered an initial A350 XWB engine inlet to Rolls-Royce.

Image courtesy: Airbus

June 25- Airbus created a new cockpit mock-up to continue testing.

July 1- Spirit AeroSystems and Airbus opened a new composite manufacturing facility in Kinston, North Carolina.

July 16- Airbus had a topping-out ceremony for the new A350 XWB fuselage assembly hangar.

July 20- Hong Kong Airlines signed a Memorandum of Understanding to purchase 15 A350 XWBs.

July 21- ALAFCO placed an order for 12 A350-800 XWB aircraft.

September 14- A fifteen-square-meter structure of an A350 XWB fuselage was fitted on an A340 to begin flight testing.

September 15- CAC Commercial Aircraft Company signed a deal with Airbus to make the A350 XWB spoilers and drop panels.

September 16- Cathy Pacific placed an order for 30 A350 XWB aircraft.

September 24- Advanced Composites Centre in Spain unveiled the A350 XWB lower wing cover and section 19 of the fuselage.

October 11- Airbus opened up and Landing Gear Testing Facility in Filton, UK.

November 4- China Aviation Supplies Holding Company signed an order for 10 A350 XWB aircraft.

November 22- Airbus completed the curing process of the longest composite “crown” fuselage piece to date.

Image courtesy: Airbus

 

2011

February 28- Harbin Hafei Airbus Composite Manufacturing Company opened new facilities in China to produce composite parts for the A350 XWB.

March 18- The largest composite fuselage piece for the A350 XWB completed the curing process.

March 28- Airbus completed the first nose gear for the A350 XWB.

April 28- Airbus received the initial main landing gear for the A350 XWB.

Image courtesy: Airbus

June 18- Airbus and Rolls-Royce announced they will develop the A350-1000 XWB with a more powerful Trent XWB engines.

June 21- Airbus and Rolls-Royce announced that the new engines for the A350-1000 XWB would deliver up to 97,000 pounds of thrust.

June 22- ALAFCO increased an order for 6 more A350-900 XWB aircraft which brings their order total to 18.

July 25- Key components for the first A350 XWB tail began to take shape.

August 9- The first A350 XWB center wing box was successfully completed and sent to the A350 XWB Final Assembly Line.

August 11- THAI signed a contract to purchase four A350-900 XWB aircraft.

August 16- Airbus, Goodrich and VSMPO-AVISMA have reinforced their partnership. Goodrich will make the landing gear for the A350 XWB, and VSMPO-AVISMA will make the titanium forgings.

September 6- The first flyable A350 XWB (MSN1) upper wing cover was flown to Airbus’ wing assembly plant in Broughton, UK.

September 16- Air France-KLM announced its intent to purchase 60 A350 XWB aircraft.

Image courtesy: Airbus

September 27- The first A350 nose section began to be assembled in St Nazaire for MSN1.

September 30- The first A350 XWB forward fuselage was successfully put together for MSN1.

October 13- Airbus opened a new wing factory for the A350 XWB in Wales.

October 18- The initial Rolls-Royce Trent XWB flight test engine was rolled out on the A380 “flying-testbed” in preparation of flight testing. The engine is the largest Rolls-Royce engine with a 118 inch diameter.

Image courtesy: Airbus

October 24- Airbus began to assemble the horizontal tail for the first A350 XWB (MSN1).

November 10- Airbus announced a delay of final assemble due to the late arrival of key composite parts.

November 22- The first A350 XWB’s wings began to be assembled.

December 9- Airbus began to join the front fuselage to continue assembly of the first A350 XWB (MSN1).

December 23- Airbus delivered the first airframe section to the A350 XWB Final Assemble Line in Toulouse, France.

Image courtesy: Airbus

 

2012

February 18- The first Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines took their first successful test fling on an Airbus A380 test aircraft. During the test, they flew at different altitudes and speeds. The max altitude they reached was 43,000 feet, and the max speed they flew at was Mach .9.

Image courtesy: Airbus

March 2- The A350 XWB’s landing gear is ready to be tested.

March 13- The aft fuselage of MSN1 was completed in Hamburg.

March 26- Airbus showcased the A350 XWB interior at the 2012 Aircraft Interiors Expo.

Image courtesy: Airbus

March 27- Airbus announced a partnership with Jamco America and EADS Sogerma to ensure premium Business Class seating.

April 5- Final assembly of MSN1 begins.

Image courtesy: Airbus

April 25- The static test aircraft was delivered to the Final Assembly Line to assist the engineers for MSN1.

July 10- Cathy Pacific decided to purchase 10 A350-1000 XWB aircraft, and convert 16 A350-900 XWB aircraft to the A350-1000 XWB.

July 16- The front section of MSN1 arrived at the Final Assembly Line.

November 12- Afriqiyah Airways increased their order by ordering four A350-900 XWBs, and they converted their original order, six A350-800 XWBs, to six Airbus A350-900 XWBs.

November 23- The first A350 XWB began structural design testing.

December 3- Qatar Airways converted their original order of 20 A350-800 XWBs, 40 A350-900 XWBs, and 20 A350-1000 XWBs to 43 A350-900 XWBs and 37 A350-1000 XWBs.

December 4- Airbus successfully completed the main structural assembly and system connections for the first A350 XWB (MSN1).

 

Image courtesy: Airbus

2013

January 3- CIT Group Incorporated ordered 10 A350-900 XWBs.

January 11- Singapore Airlines firmed their order for 20 A350-900 XWB aircraft.

February 4- The A350 XWB began testing electrical, hydraulic, and flight control systems with a simulator representing the A350 cockpit. Also, Air Lease Corporation signed an order for 20 A350-900 XWBs and 5 A350-1000 XWBs.

February 7- The European Aviation Safety Agency has certified the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB Turbofans which was a very important milestone.

February 15- Airbus says they are confident with their lithium ion main battery architecture they developed for the A350 XWB, and the lithium batteries will be part of the test flight program. However, Airbus will revert back to their trusted nickel cadmium main batteries when it comes time to start delivering the aircraft.

February 19- A third A350 XWB (MSN3) is preparing for final assembly.

February 26- The first A350 XWB with its completed wings installed rolled off of the Final Assembly Line. After successfully completing indoor ground testing, the aircraft will begin to have its fuel tanks, fuselage pressure, and radio equipment tested.

Image courtesy: Airbus

A350 XWB MSN1 rolls out of its hanger in Toulouse with winglets installed in February 2013
Image courtesy: Airbus

 

March 26 – Airbus announced today it had installed two flight ready Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and its new Honeywell GHT1700 APU on the first flight-test A350 XWB in Toulouse. Last month, the Trent XWB engines received Engine Type Certification from EASA. The Trent’s have been flying on the A380 prototype and test bed aircraft for the last year, and according to Airbus are very reliable. At this point, the A350 XWB becomes a “completed’ aircraft, according to Airbus. After additional tests and painting in the coming weeks, MSN001 will be handed over to the Flight Test Team to begin preparations for its first flight later this summer.

Images Courtesy: Airbus

 

 

Summer 2013 – The first completed Airbus A350XWB is scheduled to roll out by mid-Summer in Toulouse with first flight scheduled shortly thereafter. Neither dates have been announced, though the rumor mill is buzzing that Airbus may time these events around the 2013 Paris Air Show.

April 22 (Airbus Press Release) - After a thorough selection process, International Airline Group (IAG), and British Airways have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to buy 18 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft plus 18 options, as part of the airline’s on-going long-haul aircraft fleet renewal and modernisation strategy.

IAG, owner of both British Airways and Iberia, has also secured commercial terms and delivery slots that could lead to firm orders for Iberia. Firm orders will only be made when Iberia is in a position to grow profitably, having restructured and reduced its cost base.

The choice of the A350-1000 follows British Airways’ decision in 2007 to buy 12 Airbus A380s, the first of which will be delivered this summer. Operating the A380 and A350 together delivers real value to the world’s leading airlines because it allows them to match aircraft capacity to traffic demand on any route.

“The A350-1000 will bring many benefits to our fleet. Its size and range will be an excellent fit for our existing network and, with lower unit costs, there is an opportunity to operate a new range of destinations profitably. This will not only bring greater flexibility to our network but also more choice for our customer,” said Willie Walsh, IAG Chief Executive.

Across all its aircraft families Airbus’ unique approach ensures that aircraft share the highest commonality in airframes, on-board systems, cockpits and handling characteristics. This reduces significantly operating costs for airlines. In addition, with only minimal additional training, pilots can transition between these aircraft more efficiently.

“This is an important announcement from one of the world’s most respected and influential airline brands,” said John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “The A380 and the A350 are perfectly matched for greener long haul operations and demonstrate environmental leadership. We are simply delighted that British Airways has chosen the A350 to spread its global wings and its iconic livery.”

The A350-1000 is the largest member of the A350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body) Family seating up to 350 passengers in three classes, with a range capability of 8,400 nautical miles (15,500 km). The A350 XWB Family includes the A350-900 and A350-800 seating 314 and 270 passengers respectively, offering airlines the ability to match the aircraft to their network needs and thereby guaranteeing optimum revenue potential. Compared to its nearest established competitor, the A350 XWB Family reduces fuel burn by 25 per cent.

British Airways currently operates a total of 112 A320 Family aircraft. It is one of the world’s only airlines to operate all members of the A320 Family (A318, A319, A320 and A321). British Airways first became an Airbus operator in 1988, when it began flying A320s. The airline added the A319s to its fleet in 1999 and the A321 in 2004. 

British Airways A350 XWB

 May 7-8

According to a blog post from Jon Ostrower at “The Wall Street Journal”, the first A350 XWB was moved to the paint shop early this morning, and the first engine test could occur within the next two weeks. Read the blog post and see additional photos here.

According to AirportSpotting.com, they have reported that sources have told them that the first flight is expected to occur on June 11 in Toulouse, France. Reliable sources have also suggested there may not be a traditional roll-out event preceding the first flight. Based on this information, rumors of the possibility that the A350 XWB will make an appearance at the Paris Air Show (June 17-23) have begun once again.

As noted above, this timeline will be continuously updated with all updates to the program as it moves toward official roll-out (which we will cover from Toulouse), first flight, additional orders, major program progress, flight testing, and entry into service. Follow our Twitter and Facebook feeds for updates as well.

A350 emerges from paint

May 13 

The A350 XWB MSN001 emerged from the Paint Shop with a fuzzy picture from French Television Channel 2. The photo was taken off of French television by Isabelle Delion and tweeted out by Flight Global’s David Morrow. Airbus painted the aircraft and rolled it out to most employees with no notice, in lieu of a traditional roll out ceremony. The raked winglets and aggressive cockpit nose are the most distinctive visual cues. This further raises speculation that Airbus will attempt its first flight shortly (June 11th is the most rumored date). This could set the stage for a surprise debut at the Paris AIr Show. The A350 was painted in less than seven days, but is a very standard house livery first used in 2005 on the A380. The winglets have a bit of flair with a blue-green color calibration. In testing news, Airbus announced the recent completion of MSN001’s flight-test-instrumentation (FTI) verification. Last month the prototype had its engines installated, and passed a phase of ground vibration tests. These pictures are posted above.

A350_XWB_out_of_paint_shot_with_team

The A350 XWB is rolled out in Toulouse on Monday May 13, 2013 to employees. All images courtesy of Airbus.

A350_XWB_out_of_paint_shop_2 A350_XWB_out_of_paint_shop_4

A350 ECU

A350 painted from Airbus

PaintedA350

May 16

Kuwait Airways has “signed a letter of acceptance with Airbus” to purchase 10 A350-900 XWB’s as well as 15 A320neo aircraft. The first A350-900 XWB is expected to arrive in 2020.

The question still remains, will the A350 XWB make an appearance at the Paris Air Show next month? Airbus engineers are working 13 hour days to prepare the A350 XWB to make its’ first flight sometime in June. Many are expecting the A350 XWB to make an appearance at the Paris Air Show, and, if it does, many believe that Airbus will steal the headlines away from Boeing if the A350 XWB does make an appearance. Airbus has stated that it would be nice to feature the A350 XWB at the air show, but they also say that it is not necessary. Stay tuned…

May 30

Airbus says they are on track to sell more than 800 aircraft this year, and the A350 XWB is expected to take its maiden voyage sometime within the next few weeks. Some industry sources have said it could fly before the June 17-23 Paris Air Show, with a flypast at Le Bourget. Photographs of an A350 logo painted on the plane’s belly have been circulating on the Internet, and such belly markings are typically used for branding in air show flyby.

Singapore Airlines also firmed orders for 30 A350-900 XWB’s. Delivery of the new aircraft is scheduled to take place in 2016-17. There are options on an additional 20 A350-900s which can be converted to the 1000s. Delivery is expected to begin in 2015. This latest order will increase the Singapore count to 70 aircraft. The A350 XWB order book stands at 616 firm orders. 

A350-900-Singapore-Airlines-728x546

Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Image courtesy: Airbus

June 2

Rolls-Royce’s Trent XWB engines have run for the first time on the A350 XWB (MSN1) following the start-up of the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), as part of the preparations for the aircraft’s maiden flight. Combined with the A350 XWB’s lightweight structure and advanced aerodynamics, these latest generation engines with their exceptionally low fuel consumption help cut fuel burn by 25% compared to previous generation competing long-range twins.

Each Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-84 engine is capable of delivering 84,000 lbs thrust contributing to the outstanding economics of this aircraft. This brand new engine will offer lower fuel burn and lower emissions for improved economics and reduced environmental impact thanks to its latest technology.

The engine with its 118” diameter fan has been selected for its reduced emissions and low noise characteristics, making it community friendly and compliant with current and upcoming regulations. The Trent XWB has already close to 4.400 hours of extensive testing as well as in 75 flights with more than 250 flight hours on the A380 Flying Test Bed since its first take-off in February 2012. On 7th February 2013, the Trent XWB received its EASA certification.

 

800x600_1370170702_A350_XWB_engine_run The white smoke that comes out of the engines during the first run of any engine is a normal occurrence following any period of storage. The smoke is generated when residual inhibiting fluid (used to protect key components during storage) burns. This is a common to all engine manufacturers. Once the inhibiting fluid has cleared the engine will be smoke-free and continue normal operation.

 A-350 XWB Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-84 engines power up for the first time at Toulouse. Image courtesy: Airbus

A-350 XWB Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-84 engines power up for the first time at Toulouse.
Image courtesy: Airbus

Video from Airbus

June 4 – Airbus Press Release

When the first A350 XWB to fly, known as MSN1, makes its maiden flight, an international crew of six will be on board, comprising two Flight Test Pilots, one Test Flight Engineer and three Flight Test Engineers.

Two test pilots and the project test flight engineer will be located in the cockpit:

  • Peter Chandler, an Experimental Flight Test Pilot with Airbus since 2000 and Chief Test Pilot since 2011.
  • Guy Magrin, an Experimental Flight Test Pilot with Airbus since 2003 and Project Pilot for the A350 XWB.
  • Pascal Verneau, who has held various positions in Airbus’ flight test division since 1999 and is the A350 XWB Project Test Flight Engineer.

 Our A350 XWB Project pilots have been heavily involved in cockpit and systems design and integrations from the operational perspective.

The three remaining first flight test crew members, all of them Experimental Flight Test Engineers, will be working at dedicated flight test stations and managing the progress of the flight profile:

  • Fernando Alonso, Flight Test Engineer with Airbus since 1982 and Head of Airbus Flight & Integration Test Centre since 2007.
  • Patrick du Ché, Flight Test Engineer with Airbus since 2001 and currently Head of Development Flight Tests since 2012.
  • Emanuele Constanzo, Flight Test Engineer with Airbus since 2004 and lead Flight Test Engineer for the Trent XWB engine.

Airbus also announced a new online App for the A350 XWB for Apple and Android Mobile Devices.

800x600_1370340781_A350_XWB_First_fligth_6_crew_members

When the first A350 XWB to fly, known as MSN1, makes its maiden flight, an international crew of six will be on board, comprising two Flight Test Pilots, one Test Flight Engineer and three Flight Test Engineers.
Image courtesy: Airbus

@JonOstrower tweeted out a Vine Video of the ADS-B of the first A350 XWB taxiing under its own power at Toulouse today. Eagle eye photographer Rami Khanna-Prade posted a photo on his Flickr account of the plane taxing as well. View it here.

Video from French TV of A350 taxi tests

June 5 – French TV Network Reports First Flight Imminent Late Next Week

France 3 Television is reporting that the first flight of the A350 XWB could come Thursday June 13th or Friday June 14th. This report on the midday news comes the day after the A350 completed its first low speed taxi test and Airbus announced the first flight crew. It appears Airbus is working hard to be able to have some sort of fly over at the Paris Air Show which begins the following week.

A350_XWB_paint_shop_rollout_8

June 11

Airbus has completed low-speed taxi tests of the new A350 XWB, yet high speed ground tests need to happen before the new aircraft can be cleared for first flight. The initial plan to fly Thursday June 12 is looking doubtful, also due to residual affects from a French Air Traffic Controllers strike. The flight window and weather are still look favorable for this coming Friday June 13th, reported to be at 10:00AM local time. Airbus is would like to steal Boeing’s thunder with a fly-by over the Paris Air Show next week, but this is still continent on a number of factors such as getting approval from French authorities to fly a test aircraft over heavily populated areas. Under direction of A350 project test pilot, The first test flight is said to operate in medium levels of the performance envelope. The take-ooff and initial phase of the flight will be occur with the flight computers disconnected in what’s called “direct law”. They will fly the aircraft to around 10,000 feet and around 200 knots. Gear retraction will come next. If successful, the flight computers will be switched online, the aircraft will speed up, and the A350 will climb to FL25. High speed and high altitude testing happens at up to FL43. Once through the descent, the 350 would then make a fly past over the runway at 1,000 ft. before returning to Toulouse for landing. Once cleared after the first flight, the A350 will embark on a 2,500 hour test program involving 5 test aircraft. Msn 2, the second aircraft entered assembly the week of May 27th.

The A350 undergoes braking tests. Image Courtesy: A350 Blogspot - http://bloga350.blogspot.com

The A350 msn1 undergoes braking tests.
Image Courtesy: A350 Blogspot – http://bloga350.blogspot.com

A350_XWB_paint_shop_rollout_10

June 11 2nd Update - From Airbus Press Release

Airbus confirms that the A350 XWB first flight is planned for this Friday, 14th June (one month after roll-out), based on current visibility of the programme and the flight test status. Weather conditions permitting, the A350 XWB “MSN1” will take off from Toulouse-Blagnac airport at around 10:00 am local time.  

Between the take-off and the landing, media briefings will take place, focused on the 
A350 XWB flight-test campaign, the A350 XWB programme status and on the Rolls-Royce 
Trent XWB engines.

 The A350 XWB flight test teams are now carrying out the last checks on the A350 XWB “MSN1” before they give their final green light for the first flight to take place this Friday. Recent pre-first flight tests successfully carried out include the first power up of the fuel efficient Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines on MSN1, which took place on June 2nd.

We will cover the event LIVE from Toulouse via Facebook, Twitter, and our Blog beginning at 4AM EST.

A350 Prototype Taxis

June 14th A350 First Flight Media Schedule (Toulouse local time, EDT is 6 hours earlier)

We will be covering this on our FB page and on Twitter @airchive LIVE from Toulouse.

You can watch via lifestream (hopefully it won’t crash) at: www.a350xwbfirstflight.com

MEETING POINT: Delivery Centre – not later than 09.00

09:05             Opening words, Stefan Schaffrath – VP Media Relations

Presentation of the A350FF Media Programme

09:15                        Transfer to take off spot

10:00                        Take off of the aircraft

10:15                        Media return to delivery centre

10:30            Technical media briefing on fly test campaign by Frank Chapman (until 11:00)

- Experimental Test Pilot

11:30            Rolls Royce – Engine media briefing by Chris Young

- Head of Trent 900 Programme

11:50                        Break

12:15            Didier Evrard update on A350 programme

- Head of A350 Programme

12:35                        Media lunch slot

13:15                        Transfer to landing spot

13:50                        A350 fly-pass

14:00                        Landing

14:15                        Return to Airbus delivery centre

14:25                        Aircraft arrival at delivery centre – Photo session

14:30                        Speeches

14:45 to 15:45            Interview opportunities with Fabrice Brégier, Didier Evrard and Crew members

16:30                        End of programme

June 14 - First A350 XWB takes to the skies on its maiden flight

  • 2,500 hour flight test programme now underway
  • Five development aircraft will prepare A350 XWB programme for certification

 A new chapter has opened in Airbus’ 43 year history as the first A350 XWB, the world’s most efficient large twin-engined commercial aircraft, powered aloft this morning for its maiden flight at Blagnac in Toulouse, France at 10.00 hours local time. Equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB turbofans, the A350 XWB first flight is taking place over south western France.

A350 take-off rollA350 in the air An international crew of six is on board, comprising two Flight Test Pilots, one Test Flight Engineer and three Flight Test Engineers. At the controls of the A350 XWB’s first flight are Peter Chandler, Airbus’ Chief Test Pilot, and Guy Magrin, Project Pilot for the A350 XWB. Accompanying them in the cockpit is Pascal Verneau, the A350 XWB Project Test Flight Engineer. At their flight test stations in the main aircraft cabin and monitoring the progress of the flight via an extensive array of flight test instrumentation are the three flight test engineers: Fernando Alonso, Head of Airbus Flight & Integration Test Centre; Patrick du Ché, Head of Development Flight Tests; and Emanuele Costanzo, lead Flight Test Engineer for the Trent XWB engine.

This first flight marks the beginning of a test campaign totaling around 2,500 flight hours with a fleet of five development aircraft. The rigorous flight testing will lead to the certification of the A350-900 variant by the European EASA and US FAA airworthiness authorities, prior to entry into service in the second half of 2014 with first operator Qatar Airways.

We will have a full story on our blog later in the weekend.

June 14 – 2nd Update - Airbus First A350 XWB Completes First Flight of 4 hours, 5 minutes

Relive our LIVE coverage from Toulouse via our Twitter feed and Facebook Page. Our full story will be posted this weekend. 

Airbus Press Release:

The first A350 XWB to fly has landed back at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport France at
14.05 hours local time after successfully completing its first flight that lasted four hours and five minutes (245 minutes).

A350 FLY BY

A450 LANDS-1

The aircraft was flown by Peter Chandler, Airbus’ Chief Test Pilot, and Guy Magrin, Project Pilot for the A350 XWB. Accompanying them in the cockpit was Pascal Verneau, the A350 XWB Project Test Flight Engineer. Monitoring the progress of the flight profile were the three flight test engineers: Fernando Alonso, Head of Airbus Flight & Integration Test Centre; Patrick du Ché, Head of Development Flight Tests; and Emanuele Costanzo, lead Flight Test Engineer for the Trent XWB engine.

A350 FLAG-2 A350 FLAG-1

Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier said: “I congratulate the whole A350 XWB development team for having completed the first flight preparation in a record time. I also wish to thank the first flight crew today for taking this aircraft where it wants to be – in the sky.” He added: “I would also like to extend my gratitude to all our teams in the design offices, at programme and manufacturing level, the ground crews as well as our colleagues in airlines and suppliers and many others who helped define this all-new aircraft. The A350 XWB which has flown today, integrating the latest available technologies, is now entering the final stage of its development. And it is ready. Ready to head towards certification and entry-into-service in the second half of next year.”

A350 FIRST FLIGHT POSTER

For its first flight, the A350 XWB – carrying the registration F-WXWB – took off at around 221 tonnes. During the flight, which took the aircraft around south western France, the crew explored the aircraft’s flight envelope. The aircraft was accompanied by a chase plane to observe and film the various manoeuvres. Its progress was monitored by experts on the ground in real-time via a direct telemetry link. This maiden flight marks the beginning of a rigorous test flight campaign involving five A350s, and around 2,500 flight hours. It will culminate in the aircraft’s certification followed by its entry into airline service in the second half of 2014 with first operator Qatar Airways.

A350 CREW-2 A350 NOSE ECU

June 20- Less than a week after the first A350 XWB flight, the A350 XWB was the star at the Paris Air Show on Wednesday. Airbus sold 59 A350 XWBs on Wednesday to Singapore Airlines (30 A350-900s and another 20 of the 900s or the larger 1000 model), Air France-KLM (25 A350s), and SriLankan Airlines (4 A350s). On Thursday, United placed an order for 10 A350-1000s.

June 21, 2013 Update

Exactly 1 week after MSN-1 flew the historic A350 first flight and only a few days after its June 19th 2nd test flight, the aircraft made a historic pass over the Paris Air Show. MSN-1 made a single pass on Friday June 21 at 1:25 local time along LeBourget’s runway 21 at a height of 600ft.  Departing Toulouse at 10:50AM local time, This was MSN-1′s third test flight. It flew over the Mediterranean coast and in the vicinity of Montpellier and Lyon. MSN-1 was oiloted by Peter Chandler and Captain Guy Magrin who had performed the maiden flight. The A350 XWB’s fly-by was performed with the authorisation of the France’s DGAC civil aviation authority, and supported by Paris Air Show organisers – who allocated a slot in Friday afternoon’s aerial display.  The President of France Francois Hollande was in attendance.

Image Courtesy: Airbus

Image Courtesy: Airbus

Zoom in Download low resolution Download high resolution Mr Hollande, President of France visited the Airbus stand and statics on Day 5 of the 2013 Paris Air Show Image Courtesy: Airbus

Zoom in Download low resolution Download high resolution
Mr Hollande, President of France visited the Airbus stand and statics on Day 5 of the 2013 Paris Air Show
Image Courtesy: Airbus

French President Francois Hollande visits the Airbus A350 flight deck mock-up at the 2013 Paris Air Show. Image Courtesy: Airbus

French President Francois Hollande visits the Airbus A350 flight deck mock-up at the 2013 Paris Air Show.
Image Courtesy: Airbus

July 15, 2013 Update:

Since the A350′s first flight on June 14, 2013, the A350 XWB has flown 92 flight test hours. The Airbus press release says that “the A350 XWB MSN1 has performed well during the first 92 flight test hours.” The A350 test program will have a total of about 2,500 flight test hours.

Ten Airbus experimental test pilots have flown the aircraft. They have tested all of the key systems which include: engines, electrics, Ram Air Turbine (RAT), landing gear and braking, fuel and cabin pressurization as well as a preliminary assessment of the autopilot and auto-land functions. Next, the A350 will undergo routine maintenance and upgrades to prepare for the second phase of tests in August.

Entry into service is expected in the second half of 2014.

Additional Resources:

July 15, 2013 Update

 

Jack Harty is a Houston based correspondent for Airways Magazine and Airchive.com. He writes, photographs, and helps run the social media channels for Airways, and he writes about the latest airline industry news for Airchive.com. For as long as Harty can remember, he has been an aviation geek with a particular passion for the airline industry. In 2012, he was able to fly on United’s inaugural Dreamliner flight, and he assisted with Airways’ cover story about the flight. Harty never slows down. When he is not writing, he enjoys collecting airline magazines, pins, safety cards, and airplane models. He also enjoys photography, the outdoors and planning his next big adventure.


 

 

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