MIAMI — Airbus has announced as of today that they have received both EASA and FAA approval for commercial operations, paving the way for launch customer Qatar Airways to receive the aircraft at the end of the year.
The certified aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce’s Trent XWB97 engines. This means that work can get on the way to start delivering the 169 aircraft they have in backlog for the -1000 program.
“Receiving the A350-1000 Type Certification from EASA and FAA less than one year after its first flight is an incredible achievement for Airbus and for all our partners who have been instrumental in building and testing this superb widebody aircraft,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus COO and President Commercial Aircraft.
“The A350-1000 benefits from the maturity of its successful brother, the A350-900, which has translated into excellent right-on-time performance. We now look forward to delivering the first aircraft to Qatar Airways by the end of the year.”
The three A350-1000s with XWB97 engines have operated under excruciating conditions for 1,600 hours being tested on things such as flutter tests to general engine performance tests under the aircraft’s body.
As part of the manufacturer’s commonality program, pilots will be able to train between -900 and -1000 variants much easily, offering cheaper training costs to the 11 customers that have the -1000 on order.
Competition Against The Triple Seven?
Now that the A350-1000 has been certified for commercial operations, the question begs on the competitiveness of that compared to the Boeing 777 program. Away from the one-inch length difference, what does the A350-1000 have that the 777 does not?
Concerning the difference in passenger numbers, the A350-1000 offers 366 seats compared to the 777-300(ER)’s 365 seats. This would mean that on a capacity front for customers, they would not have any difficulty in choosing what they would want. This would encourage a fair fight between the two aircraft types.
Although seat counts are more or less similar, the range difference is significant. On a 366 seat layout, the A350-1000 can travel further by up to 620 miles compared to that of the 777-300(ER).
Although the A350-900 variant can go further than the -1000, it seats fewer people, so it isn’t comparable to that of the 777-300(ER) unless such carriers use certain space-consuming configurations.
Cabin space is just as similar. The Boeing 777-300(ER) offers 17.5 inches concerning space per seat whereas the A350-1000 tops it at 18 inches. This would show very few difference to customers but on the basis of airlines, if it is the case of extra seats, then they could potentially use the A350-1000 instead.
All-in-all, there is competitiveness between the two aircraft due to the same amenities and things that they offer on each aircraft type.
As it is similar, it could come down to the price tag, as there is a difference in favor of Boeing by $39.1 million.
Long-haul operators could be more inclined to go to the 777-300(ER) as it is cheaper or they could be inclined to go with the A350-1000 due to the extra range.
For carriers like Qatar Airways, it would be unknown which aircraft type they prefer based on the fact that they have dozens of each of the aircraft type. Overall, it boils down to the matter of perspective of what each customer will want to go for.
Away from a few tiny differences, they are both the same in terms of providing requirements that customers look for on the long-haul front.