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Airbus Has Built And Delivered a Staggering 500 of its Fuel Efficient A350 Aircraft in the Last Nine Years

Airbus Has Built And Delivered a Staggering 500 of its Fuel Efficient A350 Aircraft in the Last Nine Years

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus celebrated a major milestone a few days ago when it delivered the 500th A350-900 to Spanish flag carrier Iberia. The occasion comes just nine years after the first ‘clean sheet’ design A350 was rolled off the production line and handed over to launch customer Qatar Airways.

The A350 is now the flagship in the Airbus commercial jet lineup and features two sizes – The A350-900 and the stretched A350-1000 which is seven metres longer than its shorter counterpart. The aircraft is also sometimes known as the A350XWB which stands for ‘eXtra Wide Body’.

The 500th delivery also marks the introduction of a new production standard that will make the passenger cabin even wider – although this weight-saving innovation could actually mean the experience gets worse for passengers stuck in Economy.

Airbus has managed to redesign the cabin walls to increase the width of the cabin at armrest level. That means airlines will now be able to squeeze an additional economy seat in some rows – up to 30 extra seats per aircraft set up in a typical three-class configuration according to the manufacturer.

So, while the A350’s Economy cabin is currently offers a 3-3-3 configuration, the new production standard for all new A350’s will be able to offer a 3-4-3 configuration.

This could prove to be a lucrative choice for ultra-low-cost carriers, but even Etihad Airways has suggested that it might ‘densify’ its Economy cabin once it takes delivery of A350’s with the new production standard.

And there are certainly plenty of aircraft yet to be delivery that could be densified. According to Airbus, a total of 439 A350-900’s and 149 A350-100’s have been ordered worldwide.

Philippe Mhun, Airbus’ executive vice president of programmes and services maintains, however, that the A350 “offers outstanding space, comfort and quietness to the passengers”.

Mhun also points out that the A350 “contributes significantly to decarbonising aviation” with 25 per cent less fuel burn and CO2 emissions and 50 per cent less noise footprint compared to previous generation aircraft.

The A350’s ability to pack passengers in without guzzling fuel has proved a popular win-win for airline customers, but not everyone is a fan. Earlier this year, Airbus confirmed it had cancelled the remainder of launch customer Qatar Airways’ order ahead of a messy lawsuit that is set to get underway in London’s High Court next year.

Qatar Airways says an issue with the A350’s paintwork is a safety issue and is demanding substantial damages from Airbus.

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