Ahead of Qatar Airways becoming the global launch customer for the brand new Airbus A350-1000, the European aircraft manufacturer has embarked on a 12-country tour, showing off the next generation aircraft. First stop: Doha. The stretched version of the A350-900, which Qatar Airways already operates, has a longer fuselage which can accommodate around 40 more passengers in a three-class configuration.
Sharing around 90% of the common systems as the A350-900, the new and longer version is easily identified by its six-wheel main landing gears. It also sports a slightly modified wing trailing-edge and more powerful Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines – and, of course, it’s a little bit longer.
So far, around 11 airlines have ordered the A350-1000, including Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines. Qatar was meant to launch the aircraft late last year but it has had to delay delivery until next month – the issue is believed to be with the state-of-the-art QSuite Business Class seat.
According to a number of sources, the QSuite was found to be too heavy when installed on the aircraft. The seat is already fitted to a number of Boeing 777’s but the A350 will have a slightly modified version owing to the smaller cabin space available.
Commenting on the delays, Akbar Al Baker, Qatar’s chief executive, noted: “Our expert delivery staff have been working in partnership with Airbus to ensure a prompt entry into service.” Commenting the aircraft should join the airline around the 20th February.
In the past, Baker has been quick to blame Airbus for delays to other aircraft deliveries. On this occasion, however, Qatar Airways hasn’t come down quite as hard. In total, the airline has ordered 37 of the what it calls the “world’s most advanced passenger aircraft.”
A spokesperson for the airline said the aircraft had been “tailor-made with superior-quality cabins to meet Qatar Airway’s exacting specifications.” The latest addition to Qatar’s fleet is currently waiting (already painted in the airline’s colours) at the Airbus facility in Toulouse, France while remedial work on the QSuite is carried out.
Having already visited Doha, the test aircraft (one of three owned by Airbus and fully fitted out with Business and Economy Class seats) has moved onto Muscat in Oman. From there, Airbus flight testers will fly to Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei, Hanoi, Singapore, Bangkok, Sydney, Auckland, Tokyo and Manila.
There will be an opportunity for the public to tour the plane in Singapore where it will stop off for several days during the Singapore Airshow.