Airbus was given the go-ahead for the industrial launch of the A350 XWB Family, a new medium capacity long-range extra wide-body Family from the Board of Directors of its parent company EADS. The decision is based on strong market demand and customer backing. Entry into service of the first A350 XWB is planned for 2013.
Conceived from the outset to become a comprehensive airliner Family, the A350 XWB will be available in three basic passenger versions, the A350-800 which can fly 270 passengers in a spacious three-class configuration up to 8,500 nm / 15,750 km, the A350-900 seating 314, and the A350-1000 which is designed for 350, both with ranges of up to 8,300nm / 15,400 km. The three passenger versions have a cruise speed of Mach 0.85. As an ultra long-range aircraft, the A350-900R will fly even further. A freighter version, the A350-900F will complement the passenger models. According to its latest Global Market Forecast, Airbus estimates the demand for passenger and freighter aircraft in this category, for the next 20 years, at some 5,700 planes representing 41 per cent in terms of value of all new aircraft delivered above 100 seats.
"The A350 XWB has it all to become a great success - the most advanced technologies, the best economics and the highest level of comfort. It is a direct response to market demand," says Louis Gallois, Airbus President and CEO, and co-CEO of EADS. "The decision follows a thorough review of all the resources available to ensure a smooth development of the Family backed by a very sound programme planning. Airbus remains a lead player in providing a complete range of modern airliners to its customers."
With a cross section of 232 inches / 5.9 meters, the A350 XWB will benefit from the widest fuselage in its category, offering unprecedented levels of comfort in this market segment. It will also offer the lowest operating costs and lowest seat mile cost of any aircraft in that category. The Family is designed to confront the challenges of high fuel prices, rising passenger expectations, and environmental concerns in that market segment.
The A350 XWB will be powered by new generation Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines delivering between 75,000 and 95,000 lbs of thrust. Rolls Royce CEO, Sir John Rose, said: "We are very pleased to join Airbus for its A350 XWB programme. Together, we are committed to set new standards in fuel-efficiency, maintainability and engine reliability for the 21st century."
To achieve this, the new A350 XWB will feature the latest innovations in terms of advanced technologies. Amongst those is the use of all-new, easy to maintain and much lighter Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) paneled fuselage skins. This innovation in manufacturing permits easier maintainability and reparability of individual airframe parts, while also allowing the structure of the panels to be much better optimized in terms of design to the stress and load requirements of each individual airframe part. Over 60 per cent of the airframe will be made of new materials.
Moreover, the fly-by-wire A350 XWB will have handling and flight deck operational commonality allowing airlines to benefit from the Airbus family concept of cross crew qualification and mixed fleet flying.
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