On these flights, more than 500 individuals – comprising a select group of Airbus employees along with Airbus and equipment manufacturer cabin experts – were among the first to experience this next-generation jetliner’s “Xtra-wide” comfort and state-of-the-art cabin systems.
“The Early Long Flights are an important milestone in the A350 XWB programme,” explained A350 XWB Chief Engineer Gordon McConnell, who was among those aboard. “We’re evaluating the aircraft’s operability by concentrating on the cabin environment for the first time since flight testing began a year ago.”
McConnell said passengers – many of whom work directly on the A350 XWB programme – were especially impressed with the aircraft’s quiet cabin, full-LED lighting system, and spacious interior, which provides comfort in all service classes and is designed to accommodate Airbus’ 18-inch-wide seat standard in economy class.
Operating the MSN002 developmental aircraft in typical airline conditions with cabin crews from Air France and Lufthansa (two of the A350 XWB’s current customers), this Early Long Flight campaign is part of Airbus’ commitment to ensuring the A350 XWB’s maturity at service entry – planned for the fourth quarter of 2014.
Early Long Flight passengers were able to try out the A350 XWB’s advanced cabin systems, including environmental control, lighting, in-flight entertainment (IFE), galleys, electronics, and lavatories and water waste systems. In particular, cabin temperature and humidity were monitored constantly during the flight, with multiple sensors and MSN002’s flight test instrumentation used to measure their performance with a full passenger load.
Human factor experts also observed cabin ergonomics during the flight – evaluating how passengers reacted to factors such as the readability of interior signage or the direction a lavatory door opens.
MSN002’s first Early Long Flight took off on 2 June and arrived back in Toulouse seven hours later after flying over Paris, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and the U.K. One day later, this jetliner departed for a 12-hour overnight flight, travelling over France, the Iberian Peninsula and Northern Europe – taking in the midnight sun over Norway along the way – before landing this morning at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.
“It was terrific to welcome onboard employees who have worked hard on the programme,” McConnell added. “It’s the first time I’ve flown on the A350 XWB as a proper passenger and it feels great: roomy and comfortable, just as you’d expect. We’ve designed and built a great product.”