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Qatar's Airbus A350 set for early delivery?

By David Flynn     Filed under: Airbus A350, Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways could be flying the world's first Airbus A350 as much as two months ahead of schedule.

The Gulf airline, which is the prized global launch customer for the A350, has previously been working to a December 2014 delivery of the first of 80 of the fuel-efficient jetliners, which uses similar carbon-fibre composite construction to the Boeing 787.

But Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker told journalists at the Singapore Airshow "they (Airbus) are well ahead of the test schedule," adding that the aircraft could arrive a month or two earlier than planned.

Airbus is using the Singapore Airshow to conduct A350 tours and flights, having earlier this month unveilled a special 'launch customer' livery honouring Qatar on the latest A350 test aircraft.

That aircraft will soon join the A350 flight test fleet for external noise and lightning trials, avionics development and certification plus training for the first airline pilots and maintenance teams.

The first A350 outfitted with a cabin rather than racks of test equipment is expected take to the skies at the end of February 2014, marking another milestone in the next-gen jetliner's development.

A mock-up of the A350's cabin – dubbed Cabin Zero – also made a 'virtual passenger flight' in August with 129 passengers and a Cathay Pacific crew.

Read: Airbus A350 makes its first 'virtual flight'

At an international Airbus press conference in June last year, A350 program director Didier Evrard told Australian Business Traveller that "for the first customer (Qatar) the cabin is fully defined, we have modelled everything to a level that has never been achieved before."

Qatar's A350 inaugural will involve the 300-seat A350-900 (shown above), which is the mid-sized member of the A350 family.

In addition to ordering 43 of the debutante A350-900, Qatar has also signed up for 37 of the stretched A350-1000, which has room for 350 passengers in a three-class cabin and will enter service in mid-2017.

Airbus will also build a smaller A350-800 with room for 270 passengers in a three-class layout although this is proving less popular than its larger siblings.

Evrard told Australian Business Traveller that, in common with the Boeing 787, he expects business class to be the premium cabin in most A350s.

"I don't think there will be many airlines with first class, but with the A350-1000 there will be more than with the A350-900, which is at most around 300 seats or more" Evrard said.

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About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 5/2/14 by eminere

Not a very inspired livery...

2 on 5/2/14 by Phalanger

"which uses similar carbon-firbe composite construction to the Boeing 787"The B787 is carbon fibre barrel constuction meaning the composite skin serves a double function holding the aircraft's loads while the A350 uses pannels that are put onto a Al-Li frame, which means the pannels are not carrying the same loads like a more classical plane.  Since the width of the carbon fibre is set by external impact resistance rather than load requirements, it means there is waisted capacity in the aircraft design on the A350 which the B787 takes advantage of.

1 on 12/2/14 by Al

Phalanger: that's very interesting, to see the same materials (carbon-fibre) used in those very different ways. I suppose this will mean the A350 can't have the same larger windows as the Boeing 787, or the same higher cabin pressure (lower effective altitude) and higher humidity, because the airframe itself is still aluminium?

3 on 12/2/14 by Alvin

Which cabin products are they using? Also how many cabin classes are they putting?

1 on 12/2/14 by Al

Alvin: as far as I know Qatar has not revealed this but I would expect Qatar's first A350 being an A350-900 will just be business and economy. And I would expect they will use the same business seats as they do on their Boeing 787s, which are pretty good ones.


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