Airbus Gears Up for A350-900 Service Entry

 - October 23, 2014, 4:19 PM
Airbus has received approval for a common A330/A350 type rating. (Photo: Airbus)

After gaining 370-minute Etops certification for the A350-900 earlier this month, Airbus continues preparations for entry into service with additional approvals such as in-cockpit Wi-Fi and A330 common type rating (CTR), while also expanding parts inventories near customer bases.

Airbus has received regulatory approval for A330/A350 CTR, meaning that pilots current and qualified on the A330 can now start their instruction using only “differences training,” which does not call for a full-flight simulator. Airbus claims the approach reduces the training time by 65 percent, to only eight days, most notably because the two types share similar handling qualities, as EASA and FAA pilots recently verified.

In the cockpit, A350 pilots will have access to Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing them to retrieve weather information from the Internet in real time on a tablet, for instance. Airbus demonstrated that the A350 complies with the RTCA DO-307 standard for tolerance of electromagnetic interference. Another claimed benefit includes the combined use and intercommunication of a pilot-attached device (a tablet, for example) with the aircraft-attached electronic flight bag. The airline would still carry responsibility for implementing the actual technical solution and obtaining a local approval, Airbus said.

For maintenance control centers, Airbus has reshaped its real-time health monitoring service into four standalone modules: pre-departure check, real-time flight watch, trend monitoring and preventive maintenance. Thanks to the uplink, operators can receive maintenance advice and real-time troubleshooting actions.

The Airbus-Satair parts hub in Hamburg is preparing the initial provisioning of spares inventories. For launch operator Qatar Airways, Airbus has dispatched the first major assemblies to its store in Dubai. To ensure fast delivery to other early A350-900 customers, Airbus will soon stock stores in Singapore, Europe and the U.S. with spares, the company promised.

Meanwhile, production of the A350-1000 has begun, with the first parts taking shape at Airbus factories and risk-sharing partners. Most recently, Premium Aerotec's plant in Nordenham, Germany, produced the first carbon-fiber layers of a fuselage shell using an automated placement machine. The next milestones, during the fourth quarter, include starting production of the first pylon at St. Eloi, France, and the first vertical fin in Stade, Germany.

Airbus expects to fly the A350-1000 in the summer of 2016, followed by entry into service in 2017.