28 May 2015

1st Cathay A350 to start Final Assembly phase in coming weeks.

With less than 10 months to go before entry into service, production of Cathay’s first A350 is about to move into full swing. 

The major sections of the MSN29 aircraft are being completed at various sites across Europe, ie. St. Nazaire and Hamburg pre-FALs.

The main fuselage sections are set to commence shipping to Toulouse this month for final assembly.

Once on the final assembly line at the Airbus factory, the fuselage, wing and tail sections will be joined together, and by July the aircraft should be ready for its first electrical power-up.

System checks will follow together with the installation of the 2 Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and the cabin interior.

Aircraft painting is planned for November and the first test flight scheduled for December.

“The customer delivery phase will commence in February 2016 when the Cathay aircraft acceptance team will travel to Toulouse to perform a series of formal acceptance procedures, including test-flying the aircraft,” said Engineering’s Bob Taylor Head of A350 Project.

All pictures. Source: Cathay

Based on the press release "Final assembly of first Cathay A350 begins in Toulouse this month"

27 May 2015

Singapore´s 1st A350 fuselage moving to wing junction in Toulouse.

Airbus has begun final assembly of the first A350-900 for Singapore Airlines at its facilities in Toulouse.

Source: Airbus

The aircraft MSN26 is the first of 70 A350 XWBs ordered by the airline and is scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2016.

The A350 XWB will form a major part of the future Singapore Airlines fleet and will be operated on the carrier’s medium and long-haul routes.

The aircraft is now being moved in from the initial fuselage section joining phase to the wing junction, start of cabin installation and first power-on.

Based on the press release “Singapore Airlines’ first A350 XWB takes shape”

26 May 2015

A pair of A350 in París Air Show.

Airbus has announced that an A350 XWB of launch customer Qatar Airways will be on the static display.

Source: A380_TLS_A350

Throughout the week, MSN2 test aircraft equipped with cabin will take part in the flying display.

Source: Linder Fotografie

Although it was considered to get the MSN14 with Vietnam Airlines blue livery during the 2nd week of June at Le Bourget, finally the launch customer Qatar has included one A350 on it's huge set of aircraft that will be showcase, including a 787, A380, A319 and A320.

Based on the press release "Airbus Group plans major presence at París Air Show 2015".

25 May 2015

First test flight for Vietnam Airlines A350 in coming weeks.

Vietnam Airlines has confirmed that its first A350 XWB has moved to the ground test station to prepare for its first test flight in the coming weeks.

Vietnam Airlines plans to operate A350 XWB fleet on long-haul routes, beginning with Ha Noi-Paris route in mid-2015.

The first A350 for Vietnam Airlines is now moving to the advanced phase of production. With the engines installed, the aircraft has entered several days of ground tests prior to first flight.

All pictures. Source : Airbus

Based on the article “Vietnam Airlines first A350 XWB moves to 'advanced phase of production'” published in CAPA.

24 May 2015

A350 Doha-New York route passenger, load and fuel analysis.

When flying Doha-JFK, the A350 will have to fly into persistent westerly winds.

One can see on the planned flight time that the average covered air distance is then close to 7,000nm.

At such distances and a realistic planning for alternates, there would be around 5 tonnes left for cargo at 80% load factor when passenger and bags have been loaded.

Going home from JFK to Doha, this could increase to 15 tonnes of cargo as now the winds are in the back.

Source: Jacob Pfleger

Here the aircraft would be cargo space limited to about 10 tonnes as there would be 25 LD3 positions left after the LD3s with bags are loaded and one count with around 400kg cargo per LD3 equivalent as average density.

Source: Jacob Pfleger

The 777-300ER, which is the present aircraft on the sector, takes 42 business passengers in 78 inch lie-flat seats in 2-2-2 and 293 economy seats in 9 abreast.

This shall be compared to A350’s 36 business in 1-2-1 lie-flat reverse herringbone and 247 economy in 9 abreast.

Source: Manuel Belleli

The A350 is thus 15% smaller in terms of capacity but Leeham´s model said it would burn around 35% less fuel when both aircraft fly with 80% load factors and 10 tonnes of cargo.

On a per transported passenger basis, this means the A350 will save Qatar around 15% on the fuel bill for its second New York rotation come next year, a nice incentive to deploy the A350 as a complement to the existing 777-300ER.

Based on the article “Airbus A350 start stretching its wings” published in Leeham.


23 May 2015

New design improvements for the A350-1000´s Trent XWB-97 engine.

Since making the first run of the XWB-97 in July/2014, Rolls has focused ground testing on the newer design features of the engine.

Source: Aviation Week

These were introduced to generate 13,000 lb. of additional thrust over the baseline XWB while maintaining the same fuel-burn efficiency, 118-in. dia. fan and external nacelle packaging.
The higher-flow fan turns 6% faster than the -84 and pumps more air.
The XWB-97 is also designed with a 5% larger core and higher temperature capability as well as unshrouded high-pressure turbine blades. 
Source: Rolls Royce

Simon Burr,  Rolls-Royce’s COO for Civil Large Engines added that while Rolls was “very pleased with the first engine, which ran for 150 hours,” the company has made some design modifications to improve durability as a result of inspections following a teardown.

Source: Rolls Royce

Chief among these was an adjustment to the gas temperatures generated across the width, or traverse, of the combustor exit.
“At the exit point you set up a particular profile in terms of temperature and you match the materials to that. Our first runs showed that profile was flatter than desirable, which would mean the high-pressure turbine blades and nozzle guide vanes would end up seeing a higher temperature than [designed]” explained Burr.

Source: Rolls Royce

Changes were made and tested on a combustor rig and “we have got a really nice match to the design now.
Those changes are going into the next 2 engines on build right now and will feed into certification.”
Based on the article “Rolls-Royce Building First XWB-97 For Flight Tests” published in Aviation Week.

22 May 2015

Substantial loss for A350 first produced aircraft, as usual.

There is no official information regarding the production costs for A350 but the initially produced aircraft will be delivered at a substantial loss, as it usual for this kind of project.

Source: airplanepicturesbrasil

Differently to Boeing these losses will be counted directly in this year’s Airbus and Airbus Group profit and loss.

Source: Alexander Mikula

While there was a $434m loss provision charged to the bottom line for 2013 results, there were no charges for 2014 and none announced coming up for this year’s results.

Airbus has launched a Recurrent Cost recovery plan as mentioned in corporate presentations.

Based on the article “Bjorn’s Corner: Boeing’s 787 and Airbus’ 350 programs, a snapshot” published in Leeham News.