Grant Bradley

Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Inside Airbus' new jet - Part II

The Airbus A350XWB is awaiting certification after completing its 151,000km global tour.

The world's newest wide-body airliner called at Auckland earlier this month during a 20-day, 14-stop journey that took the jet around the world in 180 flight hours.

"The aircraft has performed remarkably well confirming the high level of maturity that it has been demonstrating all the way during our development and certification tests. We are set for the Type Certification in the coming weeks, as planned", said Fernando Alonso, senior vice president Flight & Integration Tests.

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It is due for delivery to launch customer Qatar Airways later this year.

The aircraft was operated by Airbus flight crews as well as Qatar flight crews on the route from Doha to Perth, Moscow and Helsinki. The Airworthiness Authority pilots from the European Aviation Safety Agency also flew the aircraft on two legs.

While there is strong demand for the bigger models of the new plane, starting with the 314-seat A350-900, the smaller version, the - 800 series has suffered a setback with Hawaiian Airlines cancelling an order although it did opt for another Airbus, the A330neo.

Aboard the route proving flight between Sydney and Auckland A350 marketing director Mike Bausor said there were still 28 customers for the A350-800.

"You can expect a decision the day we no longer have any customers on that order book. Of course we are talking to those customers to see what we can do about delivery dates and how to best suit our own production and when those customers need those aeroplanes."

The A350XWB had 742 orders from 38 different airlines.

Herald video: Inside the new Airbus A350XWB - Part 1:

Video

"Who wouldn't be pleased. In Airbus history that is a record when you consider that we havn't delivered our first aircraft. The only aircraft that has surpassed that is the A320neo but that's a single aisle and much easier to sell than a wide body," said Bausor.

While the plane is compared to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner due to much of the technology used, especially a high proportion of carbon composites, there were important differences.

"We've gone for a more traditional approach in the way we manufacture the fuselage, we're using frames just as we would in aluminium which we'll attach the skin to."

There would be four main panels that would be held together by carbon fibre clips and fasteners.

An Airbus A350XWB.
An Airbus A350XWB.

The crown of the plane and belly panel are thicker than the side wall panels whose only real load is the cabin pressure, Bausor said.

The A350 models were about 12 per cent to 13 per cent bigger than their Dreamliner equivalents, he said.

- NZ Herald

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