Airbus announced the A350 aircraft, a longer-range and lighter derivative of the A330 aircraft, in 2004. Following a reassessment of market requirements, Airbus announced the larger and heavier A350 XWB extra-wide-bodied aircraft in December 2006.

Construction work started in January 2009 and the first A350 XWB completed its maiden flight in June 2013. The second A350 XWB aircraft completed first flight in October 2013. The first passenger-ready A350 XWB aircraft, named the MSN2, was rolled out in January 2014. The company delivered the first aircraft to Qatar Airways in December 2014.

The final assembly line for the A350 XWB was constructed in Toulouse, France. In August 2009, the second fuselage test section for the A350 XWB was completed.

The passenger versions are available in three variants, the A350-800 for 270 passengers, A350-900 for 314 passengers and A350-1000 for 350 passengers in a typical three-class seating arrangement.

An ultra-long-range version, the A350-900R, and a freighter version, the A350-900F, are also being developed. The aircraft is also offered in an Airbus Corporate Jetliner (ACJ) variant, the A350 XWB Prestige.

A $520m loan was approved by Spain in November 2009 for the development of the A350 XWB. The country additionally provided funds of $441m. France, Germany and the UK provided $4.3bn for the $17.6bn programme.

Airbus A350 XWB construction

The aircraft is made of 45% lightweight high-strength composite construction and 55% low-density aluminium lithium alloy, steel, aluminium and titanium. Airbus selected TenCate Cetex in November 2010 to supply carbon fabric laminates for strengthening the A350 XWB airframe.

In February 2011, Magellan Aerospace received a contract from Airbus to provide complex machined aluminium lithium detail components.

The wings are of metal-ribbed, three-spar, carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) construction. The wingspan is 64.8m and wing sweep is 35°.

Atkins was contracted in June 2009 to supply the wing flaps, which are made of composite materials to reduce the overall weight and carbon emissions.

The A350 XWB fly-by-wire system is similar to that on the A320, A340 and A380 aircraft families. The handling and flight deck commonality allows airlines the benefit of cross crew qualification and mixed-fleet flying with a smooth introduction into service. The aircraft is fitted with Moog primary flight control actuators and a Rockwell Collins horizontal stabiliser activator.

Subcontractors include Hexcel Corporation (carbon-fibre composites), Spirit Aerosystems (upper fuselage), GKN (fixed trailing edge) and Latecoeure.

In September 2010, Airbus contracted CAE to design and build full flight simulators (FFS) for the Airbus A350 XWB and Boeing 777 aircraft.

CAE developed two CAE 7000 series FFS for A350 XWB and six CAE Simfinity A350 XWB Airbus process trainers. The first FFS was delivered to Airbus in 2012.

In August 2011, the first Airbus XWB centre wing box and keel beam were delivered to Airbus’ St Nazaire facility for assembling. The delivery was an important step towards the final assembly of the aircraft.

Another important milestone was achieved in September 2011 with the delivery of the first A350 XWB wing lower cover to Airbus’ manufacturing site in Broughton, UK. The wing cover was fitted with A350 XWB wing and transported to France for final assembly.

Flight deck

The flight deck accommodates two pilots and is fitted with a head-up display, an A380 on-board information system, an on-board airport navigation system and a dual integrated standby instrument system.

In January 2008, Thales was selected to provide the A350 XWB avionics and cockpit systems, including the integrated modular avionics suite, interactive control and display systems, and air data and inertial reference unit. The A350 has six 38cm (15in) displays.

Honeywell was selected in March 2008 to supply the flight management system (FMS) and aircraft environment surveillance system (AESS). The AESS combines a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS), mode-S transponders and RDR-400 weather radar.

“A $520m loan was approved by Spain in November 2009 for the development of the A350 XWB.”

The RDR-4000 was been selected for the Airbus A380 and for the US C-17 and Japanese C-X military transport aircraft. It uses pulse compression to provide simultaneous long-range and high-resolution performance, as well as 3D volumetric scanning, using ground clutter extraction of the weather and terrain ahead of the aircraft.

Rockwell Collins was selected to supply communications systems, including VOR-900 VHF and HF systems, ARINC 781 satellite communications and avionics communications router; avionics systems, including data network, a multimode receiver landing system and digital low-range altimeter (D-LRA); and navigation systems, including ADF-900 automatic direction finder and DME-2100 distance measuring equipment. Sagem Defense Securite is supplying the flight data acquisition unit and the secure communications interface.

A350 cabin

The modular cabin layout can be reconfigured overnight to allow airlines the flexibility to adapt to seasonal needs.

The cabin is laid out with twin aisles, typically with eight abreast and six abreast seats in economy and in first class, respectively. The cabin is 5.36 -wide and 46m long in the A350-800. The rest area for the eight cabin crew is installed above the rear bulk cargo hold.

Honeywell was selected to provide the environmental control management systems for cabin heating, cooling and pressurisation.


The A350-800 carries an underfloor cargo of 26 standard LD3 containers or up to eight pallets and two LD3 containers. The total cargo volume is 115m³.

The A350-900 carries an underfloor cargo of 11 pallets or 34 standard LD3 containers, and the total cargo volume is 147m³.

Trent XWB engines

Rolls-Royce developed the Trent XWB engine for the A350 XWB. Like its Trent engine predecessors, the Trent XWB is configured with a three-shaft design. The fan is approximately 3m in diameter and the bypass ratio is about 11.

The engine has an integrated health monitoring and engine-management system. The integrated engine health monitoring (EHM) system for the XWB engine has additional sensors compared to the Trent 1700 and Trent 1000.

The engines provide a thrust of 333kN for the A350-800, 387kN for the A350-900, and 422kN for the A360-1000.

In 2005, Goodrich was selected by Airbus to supply the engine nacelles and thrust reverser systems for all variants of the A350 XWB aircraft. The first thrust reverser was delivered to the Rolls-Royce facility in Derby in November 2010.

The fuel capacity is 150,000l. The fuel tanks are fitted with a nitrogen-inerting system. Parker Aerospace has been selected to supply the fuel system, hydraulics power and distribution systems.

On 22 November 2010, Rolls-Royce was awarded a $1.8bn contract by Air China to supply Trent XWB engines for ten A350 XWB aircraft.

Landing gear of A350 XWB

In December 2007 Airbus announced that Messier Dowty was selected as a supplier for the main landing gear and Liebherr-Aerospace for the nose landing gear. The first set of the new Airbus A350-900 main landing gears was delivered in April 2011. The main landing gear for 800 and 900 versions has four-wheel bogie and dual side stay, with six-wheel bogie for the 1000 variant. The main landing gear is chrome and cadmium-free and makes increased use of advanced materials such as titanium. Goodrich, of Troy, Ohio, US, was selected to supply the A350 wheels and carbon brakes.

Messier-Bugatti supplies the electronic and hydraulic landing and braking control systems.

Airbus inaugurated a new landing gear system test facility at Filton, UK, in October 2010. The construction was undertaken at an estimated cost of €39m.

Power generation

Hamilton Sundstrand supplied the aircraft’s power-generation system which comprises four 100kVA, 230V variable frequency generators with control units.

Honeywell is responsible for the design and supply of the HGT1700 auxiliary power unit (APU), the APU installation kit and the APU starter generator.

A350 performance

The 270-passenger A350-800 has a maximum take-off weight of 248t, maximum operating speed of Mach 0.89 and range of 15,400km.

The 314-passenger A350-900 has a maximum take-off weight of 268t, maximum operating speed of Mach 0.89 and range of 15,000km.

The 350-passenger A350-1000 has a maximum take-off weight of 298t, maximum operating speed of Mach 0.89 and range of 14,800km.

Orders and deliveries for the Airbus A350 XWB

As of January 2011, Airbus had received firm orders for 583 A350 XWB aircraft, 158 for the 800, 325 for the 900 and 75 for 1000. Customers include Aeroflot, Afriqiyah, Air Europa, Alafco, Bangkok Airways, China Airlines, CIT, Dubai Aerospace, Emirates, Etihad, Finnair, Grupo Marsans, ILFC, Kingfisher, Pegasus Aviation, Cathay Pacific, Qatar, Singapore Airlines, TAM, TAP, US Airways and Yemenia.

Cathay Pacific ordered 30 A350 XWB in August 2010. Qatar Airways received the first A350 XWB twinjet in December 2014.

In June 2011, Alafco placed an order for six additional aircraft. Alafco’s previous order placed in 2007 was for 12 aircraft. Thai Airways International Public Company (THAI) placed an order for four A350 900s in August 2011.

In September 2011, Air France-KLM announced its plans to purchase up to 60 A350 XWB. The first flight for THAI was achieved in July 2016.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) signed a contract with Airbus for the first batch of 30 aircraft in 2006. SIA placed an order in June 2013 for the delivery of an additional 30 A350-900s plus an option for 20 more aircraft. Deliveries were delayed and the first aircraft was delivered in March 2016.

Japan Airlines placed an order with Airbus in October 2013 for the delivery of 31 A350 XWBs, including 18 A350-900 and 13 A350-1000 aircraft. The order also included an option for the delivery of 25 additional aircraft. The deliveries are expected to be completed by 2019.

Air Caraïbes ordered three A350-1000 aircraft in December 2013. The deliveries are expected to be completed between 2016 and 2022. Kuwait Airways also placed an order for the delivery of ten A350-900 aircraft in the same month.

LATAM Airlines placed an order for 27 A350 XWB aircraft in August 2014. The delivery of the first aircraft was made in December 2015.

Ethiopian Airlines placed an order for 14 A350 XWBs in June 2016. China Eastern Airlines ordered 20 A350-900 aircraft in April 2016. Philippine Airlines ordered six A350-900s, including six options in April 2016.

As of June 2016, Airbus had received 802 firm orders for A350 XWB aircraft from 42 airlines.