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A350 update.

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posted on Dec, 1 2005 @ 05:56 AM
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I've been reading up on the A350 in the latest edition of 'Aircraft Illustrated' and here are some facts that seem to be a little different, or simply more up to date, than some points of view aired on here about the programme in the past;

A330 Commonality;

One of the biggest hammers that critics of the A350 swing at it is that it is 'no more than a warmed over A330'. This is a view I shared myself but it appears we were all mistaken. The A350 shares only 20% commonality with the A350 and is, as Airbus says, 'all-new where it makes a difference'.

Referring to teh fact that it still looks exactly like the A330, Airbus COO John Leahy says that "we avoided any gimmicky restyling because I have never yet, in thirty years, sold an airliner because the customer told me it looked nice" with that, he is clearly taking a sideswipe at 787 styling features such as the, now abandoned, 'shark fin' etc.

So, where are the improvements?

The A350 will use the same GEn-1A or Rolls Royce Trent engines as the 787 so there is no clear advantage for either type on the powerplant front but Airbus claims a 2.5% reduction on aerodynamic drag over the A330 through use of an all new composite wing and careful restyling of the underbelly fairing and rear fuselage.

That new wing will also be 2.5 tonnes lighter than the wing of the A330, with all the benefits reduced weight brings with it.

The wing box and rear fuselage of the A350 are made of CFRP (as is the wing box of the A380) and, by weight, almost 40% of the A350 will be made from this material. Airbus also statesw that in overall terms it accounts for 60% of the aircraft's structure.

Also apparently a new and ingenious 'droop nose' slat gives a further 3% improvement on drag and gives the equivalent of 2 tonnes additional take off lift.

The commonality with the A330 is that the A350 retains the metal fuselage structure of that type whereas Boeing has gone for composites in this area with the 787. This is almost sure in my view to give the Boeing the lighter fuselage but Airbus justifies its decision by quoting 'accidental damage' which is probably a reference to doubts over how a pressurised fuselage would behave if its structural integrity were breached, this is no doubt something that Boeing has worked long and hard on however.

Airbus also claims that the A350- 800 will be 3% cheaper to maintain per flying hour than the 787-8 and acknowledges that its designers went through various design concepts to develop a genuine 787 rival from the A330 before it finally settled on the current A350 specification.

Orders currently stand at 140 with Airbus expecting to pass 200 by the end of this year.

[edit on 1-12-2005 by waynos]




posted on Dec, 1 2005 @ 08:12 AM
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Thank you waynos.
Do you have information about the expected first delivery date of the A350? I couldnt find valid info on that. How long is the window of opportunity for the 787 before this direct contender hits the market?

Personally I like the looks of the 787 "CGI-prototypes"(although the production model might be even more conventional). However Mr Leahys statement is very true - maybe looks are important during the initial procurement stages of an airline, but then economics and technical features take over.

Although I seldomly trust such press releases regarding the improvements new products offer, the Airbus figures you offer seem a bit more feasible and modest to me than some of the claims made over the years from Boeing voices. After all, both the 787 and the A350 are designed following the lines of existing products. It will surely be interesting to see the market development within the next 10 years, if Boeing will be capable to increase their market share again or if Airbus will continue to take over.

I am not a decisive "fanboy" of either Airbus or Boeing, but I believe that the better allround concept will win in the end, and that I find interesting to watch.



posted on Dec, 1 2005 @ 08:25 AM
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Interesting stuff indeed.

I was listening to the chairman of British Airways being interviewed on the day of the record duration flight (the recent 777-200LR).
He said he wasn't especially interested in such marginal 'benefits'.

He did say that things like a 'family' of modern efficient jets with commonalities and cost savings in things like their operations and maintenance were a big deal to him.

The A350 is a major chunk of that modern, 'common' and very efficient 'family' for those already operating Airbus planes (as the current growing order book shows).
I have no doubt its' addition to 'the range' will also encourage non-Airbus operators to consider buying/leasing and operating other Airbus products.

I expect it to do very nicely indeed.

(totally agree about the 'image' point - especially now that 'convention' has reasserted iself.)

BTW
IIRC this year Boeing has outsold Airbus, marginally?

[edit on 1-12-2005 by sminkeypinkey]



posted on Dec, 1 2005 @ 09:17 AM
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Originally posted by sminkeypinkey
BTW
IIRC this year Boeing has outsold Airbus, marginally?


I cannot find the reference I had on that now, but on the basis of contracts (including future options on aircraft) Boeing came first, but on the basis of actually signed purchased (and their value) Airbus "won".



posted on Dec, 1 2005 @ 09:49 AM
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Originally posted by waynos

The A350 will use the same GEn-1A or Rolls Royce Trent engines as the 787 so there is no clear advantage for either type on the powerplant front but Airbus claims a 2.5% reduction on aerodynamic drag over the A330 through use of an all new composite wing and careful restyling of the underbelly fairing and rear fuselage.

That new wing will also be 2.5 tonnes lighter than the wing of the A330, with all the benefits reduced weight brings with it.

The wing box and rear fuselage of the A350 are made of CFRP (as is the wing box of the A380) and, by weight, almost 40% of the A350 will be made from this material. Airbus also statesw that in overall terms it accounts for 60% of the aircraft's structure.


From what one of my buddies working for airbus tells me, the all composite wing is giving them loads and loads of trouble... apparently the wing is something like 20 tonnes overweight!!! Its also giving them loads of trouble with the A400M too apparently.

(I think he said 20 tonnes.... bearing in mind we were both throwing back pints at the time it could have been something else, but I think it was 20 tonnes)



posted on Dec, 1 2005 @ 09:58 AM
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Originally posted by kilcoo316
From what one of my buddies working for airbus tells me, the all composite wing is giving them loads and loads of trouble... apparently the wing is something like 20 tonnes overweight!!! Its also giving them loads of trouble with the A400M too apparently.

Funny considering an Airbus A340-200/300 weighs 120 tonnes empty. 20 tonnes overweight times 2 wings per plane equals that I don't believe you.



posted on Dec, 1 2005 @ 11:47 AM
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Maybe you meant 20 pints fella?
Although this is new technology, which is never painless, it is not completely new as it follows A380 practice. I'm sure there will be snags but nothing so calamitous as that


As for the in service date, Lonestar, the first A350-800 is due tio enter service in July 2010, at the moment.



posted on Dec, 1 2005 @ 02:12 PM
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The weight issue is pretty common to almost every aircraft under development.

What Im more interested in is the winglets. Boeing seems to be turning towards a curved winglet or raked wingtips while Airbus seems to be sticking with the earlier incarnation.

Is there a sig. advantage to either design?



posted on Dec, 1 2005 @ 04:43 PM
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I'm not too sure about that Fred, Airbus says that the A350 has 'an all-new composite wing and winglet design'. Granted that on the picture it looks like the old style winglets so maybe we'll have to wait until we see an actual photo of the prototype to know for sure?



posted on Dec, 1 2005 @ 04:47 PM
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Originally posted by waynos
I'm not too sure about that Fred, Airbus says that the A350 has 'an all-new composite wing and winglet design'.


I wonder if its just style points. The curved winglets on the 737's look pretty wicked and they seem fairly large in perportion to those on the 747-400.



posted on Dec, 2 2005 @ 03:48 AM
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Originally posted by Simon666

Funny considering an Airbus A340-200/300 weighs 120 tonnes empty. 20 tonnes overweight times 2 wings per plane equals that I don't believe you.


I didn't believe him either, but he insisted.

He was saying the composite models in the FEA were simply not working, and resulting in hideous amounts of structure being needed.



posted on Dec, 2 2005 @ 04:16 AM
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There is actually a functional difference as well. The 737 winglets are blended into the wingtip, to cut down on drag. The raked wingtip actually gives you the same effect from the "standard" winglet, for less weight, and a shorter wingspan. Yeah it's only a matter of feet, but hey. Basically it's a weight saving measure more than anything. The performance differece is negligible, but the weight savings are apparently noticable.



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