Airbus has delivered the first A350-1000 to launch customer Qatar Airways on 20th February.
The delivery was late by a few weeks—when the type was certified in November 2017, the first production aircraft was to be delivered by year-end. But integration of the Qsuite cabin in business class—for the first time on an Airbus—proved more complex than planned. Nevertheless, Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker expressed satisfaction about the execution of the revised installation schedule.
Qatar Airways will begin operating the new version Feb. 24 on the Doha-London route. The next destination will be the US east coast, Al Baker said. In Qatar Airways’ configuration, the A350-1000 will seat 326 passengers—44 more than the -900s it already operates.
Airbus said it has designed the -1000 for those carriers wanting to increase capacity and maximize revenue on heavy-traffic routes. The manufacturer suggests typical seating of 325 and 366, respectively, for the two versions. In particular, the larger -1000 offers an additional 10 business-class seats, thanks to the arrangement of the emergency exits. The range is the same for the two variants, at 8,000 nautical miles.
The -1000 features aerodynamic changes such as a wing twist, extended winglets and tweaked flaps and fairings for enhanced fuel efficiency. In the cockpit, an emergency automated descent system has been created to prevent an accident in case a rampant depressurization causes the pilots to faint. If the system detects simultaneously a cabin pressure drop and inaction from the crew, it will start a fast descent to an altitude where the pilots will breathe normally.
A pair of Rolls-Royce Trent XWBs power the A350-1000 and appear externally identical to the -900’s engines, despite their greater thrust (97,000 lb. instead of 84,000 lb.).
Airbus has received 169 firm orders for the A350-1000, from 11 customers. That number has decreased since the first flight in 2016, when it was standing at 195. But Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Fabrice Bregier, who was attending today his last event, believes many orders will be inked due to an upcoming replacement need for the Boeing 777-300ER.
The company does not give a precise objective for A350 production this year, but it is expected at around 90, as the monthly rate (measured at the entrance of the final assembly line) is targeted at 10 per month by year-end. About 15% of the total should be -1000s, Bregier said, including six for Qatar Airways.