Airbus has taken another step in shaping the future of air travel with its Early Long Flight for the A350-1000, which put this A350 XWB stretched-fuselage variant through its paces during 12 hours aloft.
The Early Long Flight, performed yesterday from Airbus’ Toulouse, France headquarters location, was operated as closely as possible to a typical airline trip, from catering before take-off to onboard service for the 287 passengers seated in business and comfort economy cabin zones.
Passengers were Airbus employees, chosen based on their contributions to the A350 XWB’s development, manufacture and assembly. They were joined by company test engineers in utilizing everything from the in-flight entertainment system and overhead bins to the lavatories. Providing the on-board service was a 13-member cabin crew from Virgin Atlantic Airways, which is one of 12 customers ordering A350-1000s to date.
This Early Long Flight was all about comfort on board for passengers and operability for the airline crew, with the ultimate goal to ensure full cabin maturity at entry into service. The passengers provided crucial feedback from a user’s point of view, and the Virgin Atlantic Airways personnel assessed cabin and in-flight systems from an operator’s viewpoint.
A round-trip over Europe for the A350-1000’s Early Long Flight
The extended-duration trip utilised one of three A350-1000s employed in the Airbus’ test and certification programme for the jetliner. Departing from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport for the circular flight plan, the aircraft overflew 13 countries – covering southern Europe and the Mediterranean Sea, then traversing central Europe on its way to the Nordic countries, followed by a flightpath over the North Sea, Great Britain and Ireland, then rounding the coasts of Portugal and Spain before returning to Toulouse.
Designed for upsized efficiency, A350-1000 variant is seven metres longer than the A350-900 version, which began airline service in 2015. With its stretched fuselage, the A350-1000 accommodates 40-plus more seats in a typical three-class configuration.
The A350-1000 will enter airline operations before the end of this year, offering the same long-range and comfort advantages as the A350-900 – benefitting from the A350 XWB’s proven absolute well-being aloft and the latest in cabin in-flight entertainment, connectivity, lighting and systems.