With the second A350 XWB aircraft commencing commercial service this month – and Airbus’ production ramp-up ongoing – the company is developing new ways of working to facilitate the jetliner’s smooth service entry with operators worldwide.
As part of this approach, Airbus has created the EIS Watchtower programme, where team members from different Airbus functions are working closely with Airbus staff based in Doha, Qatar. This close collaboration is designed to ensure the first two A350 XWB aircraft meet the high expectations of global launch customer Qatar Airways.
“We chose the name ‘EIS Watchtower’ because of lifeguard towers on busy beaches,” explained Thomas Fouché, Airbus’ A350 XWB EIS Watchtower programme manager. “Lifeguards are very alert, monitoring the situation carefully and then triggering actions that avoid or solve problems - we're here to do the same for an aircraft.”
The team is serving as an interface with Doha, using flight test information and data gathered from in-service operations to prioritise issues that are most important for the airline to anticipate problems and accelerate mitigating solutions if needed. It also produces daily, weekly and monthly bulletins that communicate a full and clear assessment of the A350 XWB fleet's situation.
Fouché explained that this approach has already prevented potential flight delays for Qatar Airways’ A350 XWB aircraft through pre-emptive maintenance measures to address issues before they cause disruptions.
“The EIS Watchtower programme is all about collaboration and communication, both of which will matter more and more as additional A350 XWB aircraft enter service,” Fouché said.
“With a steep ramp-up, this collaborative approach can help us avoid the manufacture of aircraft that need to be retrofitted after delivery,” he added. “Meeting Qatar's high expectations now will give Airbus teams the knowledge they need to continue offering excellent customer support as the fleet grows.”
Qatar Airways’ historic no. 1 A350 XWB aircraft was delivered on 22 December 2014 and started commercial service on 15 January 2015, with the carrier receiving a second of these highly-efficient widebody jetliners on 4 March 2015. Qatar Airways operates these first A350 XWB aircraft on exclusive twice-daily services between Doha’s Hamad International Airport and Frankfurt, Germany.