DALLAS/FT. WORTH — Airbus’s fourth A350XWB test aircraft crossed the pond for the first time, making an appearance at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (D/FW) on Monday. It is the first known visit of the A350 to the US.
The aircraft was, in fact, ferried to D/FW by one Airbus pilot and one American Airlines (AA) pilot. Employees of AA milled about the aircraft alongside people from Airbus and engine-manufacturer Rolls Royce. The airplane was in town for only one day before heading onwards to undergo climate endurance testing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
This particular aircraft is intended primarily to test cabin systems, and it is outfitted with a full interior, with the exception of a section of the economy cabin removed to allow for test equipment. In fact, it is even equipped with a fully functioning Panasonic IFE system, including in-flight internet connectivity. The interior featured 42 business class seats in two zones and 210 economy seats, which is a significantly lower density than the standard 315, even considering the very small section of approximately 15 seats that were removed to accommodate test equipment.
A number of improvements have been made to this aircraft over its sister, the A330, including 20% larger overhead bins with integrated lighted handrails; a greater use of lightweight materials, including 53% carbon fiber and 25% titanium, the most of either material ever incorporated into an Airbus airframe; a flight deck nearly identical to the A380; swept wings in place of Airbus’s more typical fences or angled winglets; and brand new Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines. In order to accommodate its more than 8,000 mile range, this aircraft was outfitted with an 8-berth crew rest area located above the rearmost portion of the economy cabin with access from the aft galley.
Airbus currently has orders for 832 aircraft from 39 airlines around the world, with the first delivery scheduled for December of this year (to Qatar Airways). American Airlines, who hosted the event, will receive its first of 22 aircraft in 2017—part of an order which it inherited from US Airways.