MIAMI — The Airbus A350 has been given a type certificate by the European Air and Space Agency (EASA), moving Airbus’ next generation airliner one step closer to entry into service (EIS). EASA released a type-certificate data sheet (TCDS) for the A350-900 variant Tuesday, in effect allowing the A350 to begin carrying passengers once delivered to airlines.
Both 268-ton and 275-ton variants of the A350-900 were certified, though at present, no 275-ton variant exists. At present, no approval has been given for the A350 to begin Extended Range Twin Operations (ETOPS) services, but Airbus says that the paperwork for ETOPS approval is ready and should occur shortly. Of note, Airbus’ initial certification will use Nickel-Cadmium batteries instead of the Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) ones that were planned. The Li-Ion batteries, which cause significant challenges for rival Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, will be re-added to the A350 beginning in 2016.
Based on statistics from the TCDS, Airbus’ initial A350s will be about 3 tons overweight; not ideal, but half as much as Boeing’s 787s. Airbus is incorporating weight reduction processes into its production, and should be able to meet design specifications soon. According to Airways News sources, only 20-25 initial airframes will be overweight, while the remainder will meet targets.
The A350’s smooth certification program is a welcome contrast from the challenges that have befallen other new-build aircraft certification programs (most notably the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380) this decade. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification is expected within the next couple of days as well, and the A350 will continue to progress to EIS.