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Airbus Completes Front Section For First Flyable A350 XWB
By Bill Goldston

July 23, 2012 - Airbus has delivered the front fuselage for the first flyable A350 XWB (MSN1) to the Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Toulouse (France).

The impressive 21 meters long section is already equipped with its systems and was flown in from Airbus’ site in Saint-Nazaire (France) by the Airbus Beluga transport aircraft.   

The A350 XWB front fuselage section will be mounted in the giant assembly jig ready to be joined with the center and aft fuselage sections over the summer period. Before they are arrive at the FAL, the aircraft sections are equipped and pre-assembled at Airbus sites in the United Kingdom, Spain, France and Germany. All these major sections are transported to the FAL by the Beluga aircraft.

The Airbus A350 is a family of long-range, wide-body jet airliners under development by European aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The A350 will be the first Airbus with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer. It will carry 250 to 350 passengers in three-class seating, depending on variant.

The A350 was born as an A330-derived minimum-changed competitor to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the larger Boeing 777, but was unanimously rejected by prospective customers. Airbus was forced to redesign the initial proposal, but airlines voiced support for a complete overhaul. The eventual proposal incorporates major changes, which Airbus says will be more fuel-efficient, with up to 8% lower operating cost than the Boeing 787.  

The redesigned A350 was marketed by Airbus as the A350 XWB, where the XWB stands for Extra Wide Body. The launch customer for the A350 is Qatar Airways, which ordered 80 aircraft across the three variants. Development costs are projected to be US$15 billion. The airliner is scheduled to enter airline service during the first half of 2014. As of 20 January 2012, 561 orders had been placed for the new aircraft.  

The revised design of the cockpit dropped the A380-sized display and adopted 38 cm (15 in) LCD screens. The new six-screen configuration will have two central displays mounted one above the other (the lower one above the thrust levers) and a single (for each pilot) primary flight/navigation display, with an adjacent on-board information system screen. Airbus says the new cockpit will allow advances in navigation technology to be placed on the displays in the future plus flexibility and capacity to upload new software and to combine data from multiple sources and sensors for flight management and aircraft systems control. The A350 XWB will also feature a head-up display. 



The avionics will be a further development of the integrated modular avionics (IMA) concept found on the A380. The A350's IMA will manage up to 40 functions (versus 23 functions for the A380) such as undercarriage, fuel, pneumatics, cabin environmental systems, and fire detection. Airbus says benefits will include reduced maintenance and lower weight because IMA replaces multiple processors and LRUs with around 50% fewer standard computer modules known as line-replaceable modules. The IMA runs on a 100-Mbit/s network based on the avionics full-duplex (AFDX) standard, already employed in the A380 instead of the architecture used on the A330/A340. 

The Trent XWB family comprises two basic engines to power the three A350 variants. The baseline 370 kN (83,000 lbf) thrust version for the A350-900 will be derated to 330 kN (74,000 lbf) and 350 kN (79,000 lbf) for the -800, while an upgraded 432 kN (97,000 lbf) thrust version will power the A350-1000. The higher rating 432 kN (97,000 lbf) engine will have some modifications to the fan module - it will be the same 118-inch diameter but will run slightly faster and have a new fan blade design - and some increases in temperatures brought by new materials technologies coming from its research programs.  

The basic 248 t MTOW -800 will be offered with a 330 kN (74,000 lbf) sea-level-thrust rating, while the 279 t MTOW option will have 350 kN (79,000 lbf) thrust. Airbus also plan to offer a 'hot and high' rating option flat-rated at 350 kN (79,000 lbf) at higher altitudes and temperatures which uses the full capability of the -900's 370 kN (83,000 lbf) thrust engine prompted by the operating requirements for Middle Eastern launching customers Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad.  

The Trent XWB will feature a 118-inch (300 cm) fan diameter and the design will be based on the advanced developments of the Trent 900 (Airbus A380) and Trent 1000 (Boeing 787). The Trent XWB may also benefit from the next-generation reduced acoustic mode scattering engine duct system (RAMSES), which is a noise-dampening engine nacelle intake and a carry-on design of the Airbus's "zero splice" intake liner developed for the A380. Engine thrust-reversers and nacelles will be supplied by US-based Goodrich Corporation. 

The A350 XWB will feature a 1,268 kW (1,700 hp) Honeywell HGT1700 auxiliary power unit, which has 10% greater power density than the previous generation of Honeywell's 331 APU family. Honeywell will also supply the air management system: the bleed air, environmental control, cabin pressure control and supplemental cooling systems. The ram-air turbine will be supplied by Hamilton Sundstrand and will be located in the lower surface of the fuselage. The generator requirement for the ram air turbine is 100 kVA compared to 150 kVA for the A380.
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