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The next step is to have the MSN1 fully certified for commercial flight in about 12 to 13 months

Airbus is breathing a sigh of relief now that it can say it had its first successful flight of the A350 XWB family.

The A350 XWB "MSN1" made its first flight last Friday from Toulouse-Blagnac airport in France. It took off about 10 a.m. local time and landed four hours later. 

According to Airbus, the maiden voyage was a complete success with no hiccups from start to finish. 

"After the first few minutes, it didn't feel like we were doing a first test flight," said Peter Chandler, chief test pilot for Airbus. "It was so relaxed and so predictable."

Other comments included how comfortable the ride was and how quiet the MSN1 was. Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy said that people living near airports will no longer have to hear planes taking off with the A350s.


The A350 XWB takes flight
 

“I congratulate the whole A350 XWB development team for having completed the first flight preparation in a record time. I also wish to thank the first flight crew today for taking this aircraft where it wants to be – in the sky," said Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier. “I would also like to extend my gratitude to all our teams in the design offices, at programme and manufacturing level, the ground crews as well as our colleagues in airlines and suppliers and many others who helped define this all-new aircraft. The A350 XWB which has flown today, integrating the latest available technologies, is now entering the final stage of its development. And it is ready. Ready to head towards certification and entry-into-service in the second half of next year.”

Now that the first flight is complete, the next step is to have the MSN1 fully certified for commercial flight in about 12 to 13 months. 

Last year, Airbus also mentioned wanting the A350 XWB to make its first flight ahead of the Paris Air Show (which runs June 17-23), but it hasn't said anything about sending the plane to the show.

 
Airbus' A350 XWB is a family of wide-body, long-range jet airliners that are the first Airbus with wing structures and fuselage made of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer. The XWB stands for "extra wide body," and it uses 25 percent less fuel and an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to other aircraft in its size category.

The A350 XWB, which was first announced in 2006 (with the MSN1 unveiled on May 13, 2013), includes the A350-800, the A350-900 and the A350-1000 in its family. They seat 270, 314 and 350 passengers respectively, and are meant to compete with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and 777s.

Airbus' road to success with the A350 hasn't been easy. When it was first introduced, Airbus simply took its popular A330 jet and gave it a new engine in order to quickly respond to the unveiling of the Boeing 787. Airlines complained, saying it was an easy way out instead of a new, efficient design. 

To be fair, the 787 has had some troubles too. Earlier this year, it experienced many issues with electrical fires, battery issues and fuel leaks that landed all the 787s until an investigation cleared up the situation. 

Many of Boeing's issues have been fixed with solutions like a steel box to enclose the lithium ion batteries, a duct to vent gases outside the aircraft and new battery chargers. United Airlines has already put its 787s back in service, and All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Airlines Co. and LOT Polish Airlines SA started flying 787s commercially the first week of June.

Sources: CNN, Airbus



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Moar competition
By quiksilvr on 6/17/13, Rating: 0
RE: Moar competition
By mjv.theory on 6/17/2013 12:20:49 PM , Rating: 5
Wikipedia says:
"In the last 10 years (2003–2012), Airbus has received 7,714 orders while delivering 4,503, and Boeing has received 7,312 orders while delivering 4,091."

...so technically, Boeing is the underdog.


RE: Moar competition
By chripuck on 6/17/2013 12:34:14 PM , Rating: 2
Glad you posted this. I was thinking "in what world is Airbus an underdog".


RE: Moar competition
By BRB29 on 6/17/2013 12:51:28 PM , Rating: 2
They were the underdog but that was quite a while back.


RE: Moar competition
By quiksilvr on 6/17/2013 4:05:35 PM , Rating: 1
It is a fierce competition but just because they sold 400 more planes in the span of a decade doesn't mean that they are ahead. In terms of revenue, employee count, and its lack of competitive counterpart for the 787-9, it is behind.


RE: Moar competition
By Amiga500 on 6/17/2013 6:38:32 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously?

They are far and away the two largest commercial airframers on the planet and are broadly similar to each other in technology, product lines, revenue (2012, Airbus was ~$51 billion, Boeing CA was ~$49 billion) and people employed throughout the supply chain.

The even balance between the two is great - long may it continue (well, maybe the markets are big enough for a 3rd player - certainly the narrowbody market is).


RE: Moar competition
By kmmatney on 6/18/2013 2:12:35 AM , Rating: 2
I think Embraer is almost a third competitor. They make nice smaller planes, and have a backlog of orders.


RE: Moar competition
By theapparition on 6/17/2013 1:33:42 PM , Rating: 1
Airbus is in no way the underdog. And calls for it's continued existence is laughable. The EU funds Airbus, there's no way they'd let it go insolvent.

I would like to see some other manufacturers as well, though. MD is about the only one with enough resources to be competitive. It takes a lot of capitol to compete in that field though. One bad move or economic collapse, and you are in bankruptcy.


RE: Moar competition
By mjv.theory on 6/17/2013 2:34:31 PM , Rating: 3
"MD" as in MacDonnell Douglas, the same MacDonnell Douglas that was acquired-by/merged-with Boeing in 1997?.

Both sides of the Atlantic fund their respective aircraft manufacturers, either directly or more surreptitiously. Governments realise that there is really no such thing as a "free market", especially in such a capital intensive arena as this. Subsidies may appear "uncapitalist", but it comes back as taxes and economic growth.


RE: Moar competition
By theapparition on 6/17/2013 7:00:10 PM , Rating: 2
Wow that was a typo. Or would you call it a Freudian slip?

I meant in my head LM, for Lockheed-Martin. But somehow I typed MD.


RE: Moar competition
By sorry dog on 6/18/2013 11:49:39 PM , Rating: 2
that's better... but anyway, after the L1011, I doubt Lockmart is eager to get back in the airliner business... they sorta have their hands full betting the company on another little airplane project right now...


RE: Moar competition
By heffeque on 6/17/2013 11:49:32 PM , Rating: 2
The EU funds Airbus.
The US military funds Boeing.

Just sayin'.


RE: Moar competition
By theapparition on 6/18/2013 9:26:34 AM , Rating: 2
US military funds Boeing for military projects, just like various EU military organizations fund EADS (Airbus parent company) for military projects. That's a wash.

But please show me where the US military is funding Boeing for their commercial aircraft business. Oh you can't, that's right. How about how the US government gives direct money to Boeing. Doesn't happen either, although there are tax breaks. Airbus however, gets both tax breaks and direct capitol funding direct from the EU. Seems a bit unfair playing field.


Slight correction
By Amiga500 on 6/17/2013 2:59:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When it was first introduced, Airbus simply took its popular A330 jet and gave it a new engine in order to quickly respond to the unveiling of the Boeing 787.


They were going to give the A330 fuselage a new composite wing and new engines. Given that probably ~90% of the efficiency improvement will come from the wing/engine combo, it was a logical engineering decision - which backfired when the airlines wanted new, new, new and were caught up in the composites buzz.

Incidentally, the A330 re-engine rumours simply refuse to go away... with A350-800 not exactly selling well, I guess watch this space for news on an A330-200 NEO in a few years.




RE: Slight correction
By Solandri on 6/17/2013 8:49:38 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
They were going to give the A330 fuselage a new composite wing and new engines. Given that probably ~90% of the efficiency improvement will come from the wing/engine combo, it was a logical engineering decision - which backfired when the airlines wanted new, new, new and were caught up in the composites buzz.

The airlines didn't want a new competitor to the 787, which is what Airbus originally proposed. They wanted a competitor to the 777.

Airbus' A340 was doing a miserable job competing with the 777, and the airlines used the 787's launch as an excuse to strongarm Airbus into turning the A350 into a 777 competitor. And that's exactly what the A350 is - it will compete with the larger capacity 787 models, and smaller and medium capacity 777 models.

Proof? The poorest-selling variant (A350-800) is the one whose seating capacity matches the 787-9. The other two better-selling variants are 777 competitors. So this wasn't a case of the airlines getting caught up in hype over the new 787. They knew exactly what they were doing. They used a publicity campaign over the 787 to shake Airbus' stubborn loyalty to the A340, and get Airbus to finally build the plane the airlines really wanted.


Bombardier!
By danjw1 on 6/17/2013 3:25:12 PM , Rating: 2
Bombardier is looking to get into making bigger jets. So we may actually get another player on the scene, and it is about time. Just two big airliner companies isn't all that much competition. I really want to see someone, like Bombardier, come in and shake things up!




that video...
By Iketh on 6/17/2013 4:40:49 PM , Rating: 2
listening to that woman announcer talk in the video is like scratching nails on chalkboard... truly horrific




Market Philosophies
By klstay on 6/18/2013 9:16:45 AM , Rating: 2
As others have stated the 350XWB is not really in the same space as the 787, but the 777 as airlines requested. The long range larger capacity and super capacity designs represent the Airbus view that hub and spoke air travel will continue as the model going forward. The 787 long range smaller capacity design represents the Boeing view that future air travel will be largely direct point to point, at least from any mid-sized and up locations.

One thing seems clear; it will be one or the other and whoever is wrong in their guess will have a very steep curve to climb to get caught up with the other.




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