Composites, titanium and advanced aluminium-alloys are applied extensively throughout the A350 XWB’s fuselage, with their use tailored to the best characteristics of these materials. The 53 per cent of composites utilised in the fuselage and wing reduces the need for fatigue-related inspections required on more traditional aluminium jetliners. Composites and titanium also diminish the requirement for corrosion-related maintenance checks on the A350 XWB. These two factors reduce the new aircraft’s overall fatigue and corrosion maintenance related tasks by 60 per cent.
Construction of the A350 XWB’s fuselage sections is made by assembling four-skin panel sections – two lateral side panels, one at the crown, and another for the belly – onto carbon fibre frames. In contrast to other composite aircraft, this construction technique allows for a tailoring of composite layup thickness to each panel, based on calculations of local fuselage stresses and loads.
Simple, proven systems
The A350 XWB’s on-board systems are designed for maximum reliability, operability and simplicity. They are optimised for two primary criteria: robustness for ensured reliability and operability; and simplicity for reduced maintenance time and cost. Many of these systems are derived from Airbus’ A380, building upon the advantages of operational experience with this 21st century flagship aircraft and ensuring a high level of maturity at the A350’s XWB entry into service.
Solid-state power control technology on the A350 XWB eliminates the need for individual circuit breakers in the cockpit, cabin and electronics bay – providing a modern method of power control management throughout the aircraft. The application of variable frequency generators, which were first introduced with the A380, provides more power with less weight and lower maintenance costs, along with increased reliability.
Another A380-proven concept is the use of two hydraulic circuits (instead of three on other jetliners), with redundancy provided by a dual-channel electro-hydraulic backup system. Just as on the A380, the A350 XWB’s hydraulics will be operated at the higher pressure level of 5,000 psi. This increased operating pressure reduces the size of pipes, actuators and other system components while also facilitating the overall access – leading to improved reliability and maintainability, as well as reducing weight and increasing cost savings.
Highly efficient wing
The A350 XWB is a faster, more efficient and quieter aircraft as the result of its advanced wing design – which combines aerodynamic enhancements already validated on the A380 with further improvements developed by Airbus engineers. Built primarily from carbon composite materials, the wing is optimised through extensive use of computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel testing for a fast cruise speed of Mach 0.85. This reduces trip times, improves overall efficiency, and extends the aircraft’s range.
All three A350 XWB versions share the same wing planform – with a 64.7-metre wingspan, a total area of 442 sq. metres, and high swept leading edge. In addition the internal wing structure will be scaled to meet the specific requirements of each aircraft variant.
Innovative concepts applied to the A350 XWB wing’s high-lift devices will reduce noise and drag while also improving the aircraft’s low-speed performance. One of these innovations is the stream-wise deployment of trailing-edge flaps. On a traditional swept-wing jetliner, the outboard flaps extend at an angle to the airflow. For the A350 XWB, flap deployment is along the direction of flight – resulting in better lift efficiency and improved low-speed performance, while reducing aerodynamic-generated noise.
Other A350 XWB wing enhancements include the adoption of a drop-hinge mechanism to improve the flap’s deployment kinetics, along with the introduction of a downwards movement for the upper wing spoilers to fill the gaps that occur when flaps are extended. In addition, the A350 XWB’s flight computer performs in-flight trimming of the inboard and outboard flaps, creating a variable camber wing that adapts to different flight conditions.
Flying even further with the A350 XWB
Airbus is going the “Xtra” mile by applying its philosophy for continuous innovation to offer even more range for the A350 XWB jetliner series.
Marking a key achievement in 2016, the A350-900 was approved for flights with ETOPS (Extended-range Twin engine aircraft Operations) “beyond 180 minutes” diversion time by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This authorization means that when the first FAA-affiliated operators start to take delivery of their A350s in 2017, they will be able to serve new direct non-limiting routings – compared with a standard 180-minute ETOPS diversion time. It also means that the A350 XWB is approved by both the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and FAA for beyond 180-minute ETOPS.
Also providing more range is the A350-900ULR version that takes advantage of the A350 XWB’s unique flexibility, offering an increased takeoff weight of 280 tonnes and the ability to carry up to 165,000 litres of fuel. As a result, airlines will be able to perform non-stop service on ultra-long-range flights of up to 19 hours – for example on the 8,700-nm. Singapore-New York route that will be offered by Singapore Airlines, the first carrier to announce its selection of the A350-900ULR.
Orders & deliveries
A350 XWB Magazine
Did you know?
- More than half of the A350 XWB is made up of carbon-fibre material
- The A350 XWB’s full-LED lighting systems can project over 16.7 million different colours, plus an infinite number of colour combinations
- The overall wing area of Airbus’ A350 XWB covers more space than two tennis courts
- Inspired by birds, the A350 XWB’s wings have been designed to adapt during flight, morphing while airborne and changing their shape to reduce fuel burn
- The A350 XWB is the first aircraft to “wear sunglasses,” referring to this jetliner’s distinctive cockpit windows
- The diameter of the A350 XWB Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine is equivalent to that of the famed Concorde supersonic airliner’s fuselage