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A350 XWB enters service

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Opens a new chapter in aviation history.

Amidst media hype and under the close watch of the aviation industry, the first A350 XWB was delivered to Qatar last December. This first aircraft successfully entered revenue service on January 15 on Qatar’s Doha-Frankfurt route.  By the end of this year there will be four airlines with the A350 in service: Qatar Airways, Vietnam Airlines, Finnair and LATAM. Since its launch in December 2006, the A350 XWB program has received 780 orders from 40 customers, including five leasing companies.

The A350 XWB in North America

The first North American airlines to receive this stylish aircraft setting new standards for efficiency and passenger comfort will be American Airlines and Delta Air Lines in 2017, followed by United Airlines in 2018.  Together these three North American customers have firm orders for 82 A350s (United for 35 A350-1000s, Delta for 25 A350-900s and American for 22 A350-900s). Thanks to a common type rating with the A330, the A350 will work seamlessly side-by-side the existing A330 fleets at both American and Delta.

All three U.S. customers will also benefit from the range flexibility and unrivaled economics of the A350 XWB. In particular, Delta Air Lines will use their A350-900 fleet to improve its level of service on non-stop trans-pacific routes to Asia. The increased seating capacity of the A350-1000 will enable United to replace older, less efficient aircraft currently serving long-range, high-demand markets in both Europe and Asia-Pacific regions. The very-long range capability of the A350 XWB will allow American Airlines to fly more non-stop routes with unrestricted payloads from the U.S. to markets across the globe.

On target: The Flight test campaign

Since its maiden flight on June 14th 2013, the flight test crews immediately felt very comfortable with the A350 XWB’s handling and operations. Throughout the 14-month, 2600-flight hour Flight Test Campaign, the five development aircraft demonstrated a level of maturity well above that of which we had observed in previous new aircraft development programs. The aircraft went through some extreme conditions, mastering the high altitudes of Bolivia, the desert heat of the United Arab Emirates, the cold Canadian winter in Iqaluit and strong crosswinds in Iceland.  To demonstrate the aircraft’s suitability to enter into service it went on a Route Proving Campaign, 26 consecutive days in a normal airline environment doing short, medium and long-haul flights all around the globe.

At the end of this exciting adventure, EASA granted the Type Certification and clearance to operate 320 minute ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) routes, which will allow operators to fly direct routes with no restrictions. The FAA Type Certification was granted a few weeks after the EASA Type Certification.

Ushering in a new era of comfort and efficiency

The A350 XWB opens up a new era in comfortable, efficient long-haul air travel, embodying the most advanced technologies and breakthrough innovations in aerodynamics, light-weight materials and aircraft systems. The cabin proved to be exceptionally quiet and comfortable during the test flight campaign. With a cross-section of 220 inches the cabin provides space for unmatched premium first class and business class solutions. It also allows for high-comfort economy seating in a nine-abreast arrangement, with a generous 18-inch seat width. Offering a wider, more comfortable economy class seat has become a signature part of the Airbus product line, which is valued by increasingly demanding and informed economy class passengers. On top of the seating comfort, passengers will enjoy more headroom, wider panoramic windows and a larger and improved overhead storage space.

Two A350 XWB variants currently in production: the A350-900 and A350-1000 

The 7,750 nm range A350-900 is the first member of the family to enter service, designed to seat around 315 passengers in a typical two-class configuration. The larger A350-1000 will seat 369 passengers in a two-class layout and has a range of 8,000 nm. This larger A350 variant is due to enter service in 2017. The A350 XWB family is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.