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You can't have missed this?

Posted by: Tom Webb-Skinner 17 Jun 13 - 11:31AM  | Aerospace

Seen something like this in the news recently?

“Airbus on Friday declared the maiden flight of its new passenger jet a success, as the company vowed to usurp Boeing’s leadership in the long-haul aircraft market. An Airbus A350 test aircraft took off from the company’s Toulouse base and landed back there about four hours later. The flight focused on the aircraft’s basic handling and speed capability, and the crew’s satisfaction was demonstrated as one of them unfurled an Airbus flag from the cockpit immediately after it touched down.”


Yes, of course you have! This is the news of the first test flight of the Airbus A350, whether you’re an airspace aficionado or an absolute airhead, you won’t have missed this as it really seems to have caught the attention of the media.

There are many reasons for this, maybe because it’s such a great technical achievement or maybe it’s more due to what an economic achievement it is in such austere times, but whatever the reason there’s a lot to be said about it.

So where are Airbus at with the A350?

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“The A350 was initially conceived as a three-member family, but Airbus has been focusing on the -900 baseline and stretched -1000, leaving the industry questioning the future of the -800, particularly since the upgraded A330-300 could largely play its role. Airbus has collected 637 firm orders for the three variants, most of which (414) are for the -900, although sales of the -1000 have picked up noticeably in the past year, following the late redesign and engine upgrade that led Airbus to delay first delivery by 18 months to 2017. Detailed development of the -1000 is now in full swing, but at the moment all eyes are on the flight tests of the first A350-900.”


Whoever you are, you can appreciate that Airbus have a lot riding (or flying?) on this one going well then. Putting that aside, the A350 is a great technical achievement and indeed a great technical achievement (and to jump back a step, again a great financial achievement) for Britain’s Rolls Royce.

“The first striking feature is the sheer scale of the machine - the diameter of the set of fan blades at the front of the engine is 118 inches (299cm), the largest ever made by the British company and roomy enough to accommodate the fuselage of a Concorde. The blades themselves, made of titanium, are hollow and strengthened inside by a microscopically small grid construction. GE has opted for fan blades made of composite materials. The size of the fan enables the engine to suck in enough air to fill a squash court every second, and then squeeze it to the size of a fridge-freezer - what's known as a "compression ratio" of 50 to 1, the highest pressure Rolls-Royce has yet attained.”


So whatever your reasons for noticing it, you surely have, but here’s a note to consider that may make you stop and appreciate it for just a minute longer…

“The A350 will be the last all-new aircraft the company showcases in at least a decade, as both manufacturers will spend the next years tweaking their existing line-up for fuel efficiency.”


These stories and others have been featured on the Jonathan Lee Recruitment LinkedIn company page, if you are on LinkedIn, why don’t you follow us today?  

1 comment
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An excellent step forward in both airframe design and engine development. With the similar introduction of the 787, a real step forward on the future of aircraft development. I am sure it will fly at the Paris Air Show this week - perfect timing!!
Posted by: Matthew heath, Date 17 June 2013, 10:57 AM
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