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Airbus’ new President and CEO, Christian Streiff presented a whole new family of aircraft, the A350 XWB, for Extra Wide Body, incorporating a composite wing.
Airbus say that the new A350 XWB (extra wide-body) jetliner family incorporates innovation from nose to tail, utilising features designed to enhance flight operations, improve passenger comfort, increase efficiency and optimise flexibility for its airline operators. Airbus’ long-time application of advanced materials to its aircraft will continue with the A350 XWB, with the airframe using 45 percent composites and 17 percent aluminium-lithium. They say that this provides the lowest weight per seat, while ensuring the best reparability.
The A350 XWB’s all-new wing is of advanced aerodynamic design and will be built with composite material, reducing weight while providing high cruise speeds.
Airbus believes that each aircraft should have the optimum combination of composites and metals to achieve the best possible performance in its market sector: using composite materials in areas where corrosion and fatigue resistance is essential and using the latest generation of advanced aluminium lithium alloys where ease and speed of repair is the key issue. This dual approach means Airbus can steadily introduce new materials as and when there is a sound commercial reason for doing so and when the expertise is already in place to ensure they are successfully applied.
For example, the decision to introduce an all-composite wing on the A350 – a first for Airbus civil aircraft – means that it will deliver exceptional low and high-speed efficiency thanks to cutting-edge design and manufacturing techniques. ‘Droop nose’ technology from the A380, whose airframe contains more composite material than any other commercial airliner flying today (25%), will also be integrated for this purpose. The A350 will also have a composite rear fuselage and tail cone, each being built for the first time in one “skin.”
The new family will consist of four passenger versions and one freighter, completing the Airbus long-range product for the 21st century with the most modern and technologically advanced products. Increased range, increased speed, enhanced passenger comfort and the best economics will make the A350 XWB a reference for the future.
Airbus unveiled the A350 XWB at this week’s Farnborough International Air Show as development of this medium-capacity, twin-engine aircraft family moves ahead at full speed. A formal industrial launch decision is expected in October, enabling airline service to begin with the 314-passenger A350 XWB-900 in mid 2012. This would be followed by the targeted start-up of airline service with the 270-passenger A350 XWB-800 in the first quarter of 2013, and the 350-passenger A350-1000 in the first quarter of 2014.
“I want this company to get back to its basics: Airbus’ success has been based on the enormous courage it took to introduce the latest technologies, and on strong customer orientation with a spirit of always delivering more than expected. I want to keep this Airbus way of working, but on top be focussed 100 percent on orderly execution and reliability”, said Airbus’ President and CEO Christian Streiff. He added: “Based on previous lessons learnt, the A350 XWB brings Airbus fully back into the game and will be a success. A success for customers, shareholders and all other stakeholders in Airbus.”
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