Airbus has showed off its new A350 XWB, rolling out its first flyable plane on Monday fresh from the paintshop in company livery.
The aircraft is the first in a family of super efficient passenger planes Airbus designed to go head-to-head against rival Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and 777s.
“XWB” means “extra wide body.” There are three members in the A350 family: the A350-800, the A350-900 and the A350-1000, which seat 270, 314 and 350 passengers respectively, in three-class seating.
The largest of the three lightweight carbon-composite aircraft, the A350-1000, is 73.88 meters long and has a range of approximately 8,400 nautical miles, or 15,600 kilometers. The catalog price is US$320.6 million. As of March 31, there were 110 orders for the A350-1000 among a total of 616 orders from 34 customers. Most orders, 414, have been for the A350-900.
The plane unveiled on Monday at Airbus HQ in Toulouse, France is the latest milestone in what has been a turbulent production history for the A350.
Critics have said the A350 program — first launched in 2007 — was a poorly-designed, hasty response to Boeing’s 787.
“The company, which was hip-deep in sorting out A380 development, simply hadn’t foreseen the huge pent-up demand for a more efficient 250-seat airliner, and tried to take the easy way out by offering a re-engined version of its A330,” aviation journalist David Kaminski-Morrow, air transport editor of Flightglobal.com, told CNN in an earlier report.
Airbus reworked the design, configurations and technology to increase the plane’s range and efficiency.
The unveiled plane, which Airbus have tagged “MSN001,” will undergo final tests before its maiden flight expected in June.
Airbus said it took less than a week to complete the aircraft painting. Last month, engines were installed, ground vibration tests and flight test instrumentation verification were completed.