The brand new
(Extra Wide Body) aircraft
successfully taking off and landing today after a
four-hour maiden flight
) is capable of delivering on schedule. And it might be a powerful
signal for the airline industry in light of the upcoming
Show at Le Bourget
, which begins June 17.
A350 is a state-of-the-art wide-body twin-engine aircraft capable
of getting up to 350 passengers (or even 440 in "all-economy"
layout) a distance of up to 8,500 nautical miles - that's roughly
the equivalent of non-stop service between New York City and
Wellington, New Zealand. The A350 Family will feature three planes:
-800, -900, and -1000, differing in passenger capacity and range.
New engines, advanced composite wings, and lighter bodies make the
A350 Family the best bet in its class in terms of cost efficiency.
According to Airbus, A350 offers 25% lower seat-mile cost compared
The Boeing Company's
) 777 Family and an 8% advantage over the current 787-8
The new craft not only saves the airline money, but it also has
perks for passenger: Travelers will enjoy a handful of new modern
cabin features, including ambient LED lighting, HD-entertainment
features, and a built-in connectivity system.
Airbus was, at first, reluctant to develop a new plane family as an
answer to Boeing's 787 program
(known then as 7E7). Airbus officials called Dreamliner's benefits
"minor" and thought discounts on massively popular A330-200
aircraft could negate any fuel-efficiency advantages.
"We don't need to react to the presentation of this plane,"
Noel Forgeard, Airbus CEO in 2004. "We are very content to stay
with our A330-200," reiterated Airbus Chief Commercial Officer
John Leahy in his comment to Reuters
Airbus soon reconsidered and announced its 787-rival, the A350, in
December 2004 as a "sistership to the A330."
After about a year of heavy criticism
, Airbus agreed that the revamped A330 wouldn't get off the ground
restarted the program from the ground up in
, changing the name to A350 XWB. "Based on previous lessons learnt,
the A350 XWB brings Airbus fully back into the game and will be a
success," the then-president and CEO Christian Streiff stated.
Seven years and some $14 billion in R&D later, the first flight
of A350 XWB might well support the Streiff's words.
If flight tests go as planned and the first commercial A350 is
delivered in late 2014, the all-time rival of Airbus might feel
some pressure. Boeing has already suffered a massive hit from
Dreamliner groundings due to battery issues
, and the company
keeps losing money
on each Dreamliner delivery; it only plans to break even by 2015.
Boeing has a larger Dreamliner, 787-9
in the works now
with its first flight planned for later in 2013. The company is
said to soon be announcing an even bigger 787-10, which will
compete in value with the A350 on shorter routes. The company is
reportedly looking to revamp its 777 family
won more than 800 orders
for its 787 craft and has had 57 Dreamliners already delivered,
compared to A350 with 616 orders.
Airbus and Boeing
have not announced
any additional commercial aircraft families in development; the
companies are likely to expand and tweak currently existing