European air-framer Airbus S.A.S. has completed the main structural assembly and system connection of the first A350 XWB aircraft ‘MSN1’, which is also the first flight-test aircraft of this new series.
The aircraft pictured moved out of the main assembly hall (Station 40) at A350 XWB Final Assembly Line in Toulouse, France. It then entered the adjacent indoor ground test area (Station 30).
At Station 30, the programme will start by testing the aircraft’s hydraulic system, followed by the full electric and hydraulic power-on of the aircraft which is expected to the completed by the end of this year, after which the airframe will start several weeks of comprehensive functional system testing.
After the A350 XWB MSN1 exits station 30, the aircraft will go through a series of extensive production and certification and development tests, be painted, and then have its massive Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines installed.
It is expected to be delivered to the flight-line and be readied for its first flight in mid-2013.
In related news, Qatar Airways, the launch customer of the A350XWB, has endorsed the larger versions of the aircraft and amended its the make-up of its existing firm order for 80 A350s, 20 A350-800s, 40 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s, to 43 A350-900s and thirty seven 37 A350-1000s.
As per Wikipedia, the A350-900 is the first A350 model and seats 314 passengers in a 3-class cabin 9-abreast layout. It has a standard design range target of 15,000 km (8,100 nm). The A350-800 will seat 270 passengers in a 3-class with a 9-abreast layout. It is designed to compete with the Boeing 787-9 and to directly replace the Airbus A330-200. The A350-1000 is expected to enter service after the -800. It will seat 350 passengers in a 3-class cabin 9-abreast layout, and is designed to compete with the Boeing 777-300ER and replace the Airbus A340-600.
The A350-1000 will feature a slightly larger wing than the -800/900 models; a trailing-edge extension increasing its area by 4%. This will extend the high-lift devices and the ailerons, making the chord bigger by around 400 mm, optimising flap lift performance as well as cruise performance.
What are your thoughts on the new A350XWB. We definitely like the new sharper nose, which is a sharp departure from the bulbous noses of the A320 and the A380.