31 August 2014

Aeroflot to decide how to convert its order of 8 A350-800 to A350-900 or A350-1000. Also considering the A330neo.

“Aeroflot was one of the early customers for the A350, as it signed for 22 aircraft in 2007,” Airbus VP for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Andreas Kramer said during the MSN5 one-day stop at Moscow Sheremetievo airport within the A350 World Tour. “We are in Moscow to show theA350XWB to.”

Even though Aeroflot placed its A350-800 order before Airbus dropped the original design in favor of the more spacious XWB and subsequently launched the A330neo, the manufacturer still counts Aeroflot orders among the total orders collected so far. Currently there are 8 A350-800 and 14 A350-900 orders considered in Airbus´ orderbook.

Aeroflot deputy general director and head of flight operations Igor Chalik said that the airline has yet to decide how to convert its earlier order, and which of the currently available models it might take instead of the A350-800.

“Everything depends on how our network of routes develops, as we want to maximize the seat loading factors,” he said.

“Since we placed the order, things have changed. The currently available -900 and-1000 versions have larger cabins.”

Aeroflot plans to open A350 revenue operations in 2018. “So the choice of a model is not something for today; we can make it later, not now,” added Chalik.

Other sources within Aeroflot said that the airline has begun considering the A330neo as a less expensive alternative to the A350.

Aeroflot considers the A350XWB as a natural successor to the Il-96-300, noting fuselage cross-section similarities and 9-abreast seating in the same factory arrangement.

Based on the article “Sanctions Cast Shadow over A350 Visit to Moscow” published in AINOnline

30 August 2014

The A350 certification with Lithium batteries will take one year more.

US regulators have issued the special conditions for approving lithium-ion battery installation on the Airbus A350-900. They are necessary because airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate standards for certain aspects of modern aircraft design, including the use of lithium-ion batteries; “Lithium-ion batteries and battery systems have new hazards that were not contemplated when the existing regulations were issued,” says the FAA.

The FAA has amended the details in places comparing similar requirements laid down for the Boeing 787 in 2007; the instructions for continued airworthiness must contain maintenance requires assuring that the batteries are “sufficiently charged”, retaining enough charge to ensure the cells will not be damaged.

“A battery cell may be damaged by lowering the charge below a point where the battery experiences a reduction in the ability to charge and retain a full charge,” it states. “This reduction would be greater than the reduction that may result from normal operational degradation.” It adds that precautions should be included in these instructions to prevent mishandling of the batteries which could result in short-circuit or other unintentional impact damage.

Airbus had initially opted for lithium batteries to power certain electrical systems on the A350 but switched to conventional nickel-cadmium in 2012 after battery-related incidents on the 787 sparked safety concerns.

The lithium-ion batteries´ certification in the A350 is planned for mid-2015 based on an interview published in Le Figaro with Saft CEO. "Airbus did not split the contract between the battery and the charger, we will provide the 'box' that connects the battery to the aircraft," said John Searle, Saft CEO. "For Saft, the A350 program represents a turnover of around 300 million dollars in original equipment and replacement," he added.

Based on the article “US FAA lays out conditions for A350 lithium batteries” published in FlightGlobal and based on the article  L'Airbus A 350, une aubaine pour les batteries Saftpublished in Le Figaro.

29 August 2014

Finnair´s A350s will be the 1st aircraft with wi-fi service onboard … but it could not be wi-free.

Finnair is evaluating addition of in-flight wifi capability on the rest of its fleet after introducing this wifi-service for the first time on its new A350 –with EIS planned from 2015 to 2017-.
“We are evaluating it on the rest of the fleet; both the rest of the widebodies and narrowbody fleet” said Finnair commercial chief Allister Paterson.

Finnair is still evaluating the priceing model for wi-fi when it launches with the A350s. “Very few airlines offer it for free. We are going to watch the model as it unfolds” said Paterson. “wi-fi is a big investment. Our thinking is we will charge for it,  but if that model changes, we will have to follow it”.

Based on the article “Finnair ponders wi-fi for rest of fleet” published in FlightGlobal.

28 August 2014

A350-1000´s engine starts running on the Rolls-Royce test beds in Derby, UK.

Following closely after the first engine run of the Trent XWB-97 in July, the engine has achieved full takeoff power of 97,000 lbs.

Alistair McIntosh, Chief Engineer for the Trent XWB-97, said: “Reaching 97,000 lbs of thrust is another important milestone for us.  Like the saying goes ‘you need to learn to walk before you can run’, so we’ve been building up thrust levels over the last couple of weeks to understand how the engine performs against our models, before hitting full thrust.”  The engine will continue to test over the coming weeks to further explore the function and operability of the Trent XWB-97 design, across various thrusts and maneuvers.

“What impresses me most is the amount of running we’ve been able to do so far with this engine and how quickly we’ve done it.  It really shows how far we’ve come with our design techniques and tools,” added Alistair.  “We’re also coming from a solid baseline of having so much experience of the -84 engine.  What we need to do now is to execute the program we’ve set out, continue running this engine, and getting more -97 engines on to the test beds.”

Based on the press release “Trent XWB-97 achieves full takeoff power”

27 August 2014

Qatar Airways shows off 1st painted A350-900 MSN6

Qatar Airways’ first Airbus A350-900 has broken cover with its full livery.

The Doha-based airline is the launch customer of the A350 and it is planned that the first aircraft will be delivered by the end of the year.

This 1st aircraft, the MSN6, has been painted in the carrier’s distinctive grey-and-maroon livery.

In the pictures shown by Qatar Airways, the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-84 engines are not installed.

As these pictures are from last week, the powerplants have already been installed in the FAL in Toulouse, as shown in these 2  pictures:

Based on the article “Qatar shows off first A350 in full livery” published in Flight Global

26 August 2014

Test flights ongoing to demonstrate that the A350 can safely fly 7 hours using a single engine.

Airbus intends to ramp up flight tests this week to demonstrate that the A350 eventually should be allowed to fly routes taking it as many as 7 hours from an emergency landing strip. Trans-Atlantic flights to Goose Bay in Canada, Azores and Cape Verde are planned as these are common diversion airports.

The A350 would have unprecedented regulatory leeway compared with other twin-engine jets on ultra-long polar or over-water routes.

If European regulators grant approval in coming years, the wide-body jets would be able to take more direct routes to slash flight times, save fuel and give Airbus a potential marketing advantage connecting a limited number of destinations. Later, the FAA will be asked to give its stamp of approval. When the A350 goes into service in coming months, Airbus expects to have approval for diversions of more than 3 hours. (Between ETOPS 180 and ETOPS 330)

Industry officials said Airbus would win bragging rights for the A350 to fly virtually any nonstop route in the world without having to make adjustments to stay closer to potential diversion airports; Australia-Brazil and SouthAfrica-Australia are some of new nonstop routes that would be open for twin-engine jets.

More broadly, the issue also highlights the reliability of the latest generation of Rolls-Royce engines, along with electrical, fuel and fire-suppression systems.

“This is the first time we are targeting such an aggressive ETOPS certification,” said Fernando Alonso, SVP for flight testing at Airbus. To combat fire, one batch of extinguishers is designed to put out the flames. A second group would release chemicals in a controlled way to assure the fire doesn’t rekindle.

Rival Boeing currently has approval to fly certain aircraft as far as 5,5 hours from the nearest suitable airport in case of an emergency. When plans for the A350 were unveiled, Boeing said it didn’t intend to match Airbus’s goal.

On its A330-300 wide-body, Airbus already has approval to fly as far as 4 hours from the nearest airport under so called Extended-range Twin Operations, or ETOPS, rules.

Based on the article “Airbus tests A350’s ability to fly farther from emergency landing sites” published in The Wall Street Journal.

25 August 2014

Finnair, A350 European launch customer, details the route plans.

Airbus A350 XWB European launch customer Finnair will initially deploy its new aircraft on routes to Shanghai, Bangkok and Beijing when it enters service in the 2nd half of 2015.

Finnair, which has 11 A350s on firm order and another 8 on option, will subsequently roll the aircraft out to its Hong Kong and Singapore services in 2016.

Finnair will operate the aircraft in a 297-seat configuration including 46 business class seats in a 1+2+1 layout. Economy will feature a 3+3+3 layout, including 43 "economy comfort" seats with additional leg-room.

Based on the article “Finnair details initial A350 routes” published in FlightGlobal.

24 August 2014

FAA Issues Special Conditions on Tire Failure Debris Penetration for A350. Meantime, Airbus completes the impact study for the wing.

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a final special conditions rule [a Federal Register notice Docket No. FAA-2013-0907] for Airbus Model A350-900 series airplanes that will be effective on 8/September.

“These airplanes will have a novel or unusual design feature associated with fuel tanks constructed of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) materials located within the tire-impact zone, including the wing fuel tanks.

The ability of carbon-fiber composite material to resist penetration or rupture when impacted by tire debris has not been established. No current airworthiness standards specifically address this hazard for all exposed wing surfaces. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.”

Meantime, Airbus has completed the impact study for the A350 wing. Engineering consultancy Frazer-Nash has successfully completed a contract to accurately model impact damage on the A350 XWB.

The team analyzed particular areas on the leading edge and lower wing covers of the A350 XWB wings, with particular focus on the composite components.

The work involved Frazer-Nash conducting non-linear Finite Element Analysis to evaluate the predicted damage to the leading edge structures during bird impacts for different speeds and angles. The work also assessed the integrity of the wing lower covers in the event of tire debris impact.

Glyn Norris, Aerospace Business Manager at Frazer-Nash, “This project has been a great success. We were able to use our extensive modelling experience to support Airbus in successfully gaining certification”

Based on the press release “Impact study for Airbus A350XWB wing completed by Frazer-Nash” and based on the article “FAA Issues Special Conditions on Tire Failure Debris Penetration for Airbus A350-Series Airplanes” published in HispanicBusiness.com 

23 August 2014

What are those big jars onboard the A350 test aircraft used for?

During the Farnborough Airshow, the A350 prototype that was in display was visited for many people. And when visiting the interior of the flight test prototype, many questions were regarding the big grey-vessels that were onboard.

Crawford Hamilton, who works in the Airbus customer affairs team during the Farnborough Airshow explained what the big jars on board the aircraft were used for.

“We load them up with a mixture of water and glycol. That’s to stop them freezing and they simulate the loads in an airplane. We can move the centre of gravity of the aircraft by either filling them or taking the water mix out of them. And that means we can then start to look at how the airplane will look when it is loaded up with passengers or freight and understand what it does under those conditions.”

In ILA Mrs. Merkel asked about the jars too.

Based on the article “Airbus A350: The secrets behind building a superjet” published in The Telegraph.

22 August 2014

A removal in one engine during the A350 flight testing campaign. 420min-ETOPS clearance targeted for EIS.

Rolls-Royce reports smooth operation of the Trent XWB-84 during A350 flight testing .

“So far engine performance has been really good and reliable,” says Trent XWB Program Director Simon Burr, who notes that the single unplanned removal to date was a precautionary move to replace a faulty oil level sensor.

With the bulk of testing over, Rolls is focused on endurance-running to support ETOPS clearance—targeted at 420 min. from entry into service for the A350-900.

The work, conducted at Rolls’s  “60 bed”  facility at the NASA Stennis site in Mississippi, is aimed at demonstrating reliability across 3.000 simulated flight cycles.

The engine returned to Derby for tear down and inspection some weeks ago, following completion of a 3rd —and final—simulated diversion cycle.

ETOPS testing included runs at 30 min. per cycle. “We have been doing 60 cycles a day and ran through difficult weather for 43 hours continuously,” says Burr.

“We are in good shape and looking forward to entry into service.”

Based on the article “Stepping Up” published in Aviation Week.

21 August 2014

Ethiopian Airlines could choose soon between the 777X and the A350-1000.

Based on an interview to Tewolde Gebremariam (Ethiopian Airlines CEO) in The Wall Street Journal, the national airline of Ethiopia would announce next week an order of around 40 new widebody aircraft, selecting between the Boeing B777X and the A350-1000.

A 2nd order or MoU for additional 20 aircraft could also be anounced.

The carrier, which currently has an almost exclusively Boeing fleet, has said it wants to double its fleet to 112 planes and carry 18 million passengers over 92 routes by 2025.

“In line with our Vision-2025, we plan to provide more and more non-stop long-haul flights to connect east, west, north and south using the strategic location of our Addis Ababa hub” said Gebremariam. Due to its location, analysts say Ethiopian mainly competes for business with long-haul rivals such as Turkish Airlines and Gulf carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

Ethiopian Airlines has an order for 12 A350-900 but it has been Boeing´s partner for more than 65 years: Ethiopian Airlines currently operates an all-Boeing fleet of 737, 757, 767, 777 and 787 airplanes in passenger service. It was the first African airline to order the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

An order for A350-1000 is possible but not easy, after Gebremariam´s comment in an interview last February; "when the 777X comes, as soon as we can get the production slots we will be there".

Updatedthe order will be for 70 jets, including 30 narrow-bodies (20 firm + 10 options).

Based on the article « B777X ou A350 : d├ęcision imminente pour Ethiopian Airlines » published in Air Journal

20 August 2014

Aeroflot’s order for 22 A350s could be impacted by US/EU sanctions.

Even though sanctions imposed over Moscow’s alleged involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine appear not to immediately threaten airliner sales in Russia, the inclusion of certain Kremlin-controlled financial institutions and airlines on so-called “black lists” appears likely to alarm potential investors from Europe and elsewhere.

The situation casts a shadow over Aeroflot’s rather controversial order for 22 Airbus A350s placed 7 years ago. Among other recent Aeroflot fleet renewal programs, plans called for one of the banks under sanction—Vneshtorgbank (VEB)—to fund the A350 transaction under a buy and lease-back arrangement. Should the sanctions continue for long, Airbus might ask Aeroflot for a more suitable financier.

Andreas Kramer, Airbus vice president for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, tried to allay any such fears. “A financier is often chosen five to six months before delivery, so it is too early to speak of it,” he insisted.

During the MSN5 one-day stop at Moscow Sheremetievo airport –within the A350 World Tour-, Kramer said: “We are in Moscow to show the A350XWB to our airline customers and to demonstrate that it can operate without any additional airport equipment. The A350XWB is partially a Russian aircraft since some parts of it have been developed Airbus engineering center in Moscow, one of the best engineering centers of its kind around the world.”

Russian engineers performed work involving the shaping of the airplane’s fuselage sections.

Based on the article “Sanctions Cast Shadow over A350 Visit to Moscow” published in AINOnline

19 August 2014

Virgin Australia CEO: “the A350 is a very impressive aircraft. I have been pleasantly surprised”

Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti joined the A350-900 visit to Sydney last week and he admitted that “the A350 is a very impressive aircraft”.

Virgin plans to replace and update their fleet of existing Boeing 777 and Airbus A330s beyond 2017.

“We’re talking about fleet composition beyond 2017. Admittedly we have to make a call soon, but we’ve still got a year or so up our sleeves. We don’t have to rush into this” Borghetti said in Feb/2013.

That year-or-so is now all but done, and orders for 787-9 and A350-900 are piling up, but Borghetti is intent on taking his time to make the right decision – and no doubt land the best discount against the list price. And a few sweet words for the A350 is no doubt going to help in that.

“We’ll take our time and make sure we make the right decision” Borghetti said.

“Our team’s been studying this very carefully, obviously, along with the Boeing aircraft, and from everything we’ve seen on paper certainly the A350’s an incredibly competitive aircraft” he said.

“Whether you’re looking at it from the operating statistics or the customer comfort, I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised. You really don’t think you’re in a tube; you think you’re in a room because you’ve got a flat roof and almost a flat side” he observed. “It’s very different to what was, of course, the original 350 design. This is outstanding, seriously ­outstanding.”

Based on the article “Virgin Australia warms to Airbus A350” published in Australian Business Traveller.