Airbus A350-1000 is scheduled to go into service in the second half of 2017.
In a significant achievement, France-based Airbus’ largest passenger jet, the A350-1000, took to the skies for the first time.
Made out of lightweight carbon-fiber, the A350-1000’s debut 3 hour flight was eagerly watched by its bosses who have sunk in $356 million in this project.
As per co-pilot Frank Chapman, the A350-1000, with a seating capacity of 360-seats, performed “smoothly”. The plane has been designed to break Boeing’s monopoly in the lucrative “mini-jumbo” segment which typically involves twin-engine jets which carry 350 passengers.
Built from similar material than its sister A350-900, which entered into service last year, the A350-1000 caters to increased passenger comfort and improved fuel savings.
Scheduled to enter service in the second half of 2017, the A350-1000 will now be facing 1,600 hours of intensive flight tests.
With the 230 tonnes aircraft taking to the skies under the applause of factory workers, Fabrice Bregier, the chief executive of Airbus’ plane manufacturing division, opined that he was confident that the A350-1000 will be delivered on time to Qatar Airways, a launch customer.
“It makes me very happy and very proud. We are flying according to the timetable we had planned,” said Bregier.
Boeing has responded to the aircraft by developing an even bigger version of the 777, which is scheduled to enter service in 2020. On its part, Airbus has also considered to scale up its A350, but as per senior marketing vice president, Francois Caudron, it is not currently necessary.
Nonetheless, industry sources have revealed that Airbus is offering the “A350-2000” to potential buyers, which includes British Airways and Singapore Airlines.
The A350-2000 would require a bigger Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine. The one that powers the A350-1000 is one of the industry’s largest. Its fan case is so huge that it can swallow the entire fuselage of the now defunct Concorde.
According to Chris Young, program director of Rolls Royce, the company is always ready to upgrade its engines and meet the requirements of airplane manufacturers.