- On 16-Sep-2004, Airbus top executive Noel Forgeard confirmed that Airbus had proposed a new twin-aisle mid-size aircraft to customers. This adaptation of the A350 resembled the A330 in fuselage cross-section and assembly, but with new engines, new wings, new horizontal stabilizer, and additional composite materials. For years, Airbus had publicly cast off the threat of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to the Airbus A330.
- On 10-Dec-2004, the boards of EADS and BAE Systems, who then owned 80% and 20% of Airbus respectively, approved the “authorization to offer (ATO)” for the now- called A350.
- On 13-Jun-2005, at the 2005 Paris Air Show at the Le Bourget Airport north of Paris, Qatar Airways announced an order for 60 A350s.
- On 06-Oct-2005, Airbus announced the full industrial launch of the A350. The aircraft was to be first available in two versions: the A350-800 (8,800 nmi, 253 passengers in a three-class configuration) and the A350-900 (7,500 nmi, 300 passengers in a three-class configuration.)
- On 28-Mar-2006, the President of aircraft lessor Infrastructure Leasing and Finance (ILFC) Steven F. Udvar-Hazy publicly derided the Airbus’ strategy as a poor reaction to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
- On 30-Mar-2006, Finland’s Finnair became the first airline to place a firm order for the A350. It ordered 11 A350-900s with an option for four more A350 XWBs.
- On 22-Jun-2006, Singapore’s Singapore Airlines ordered 20 A350-900s.
- On 14-Jul-2006, at the Farnborough Airshow in Farnborough Airport in Hampshire, England, Airbus presented a redesigned aircraft now called the A350 XWB (Xtra-Wide-Body.) The A350 XWB included a wider fuselage cross-section that could accommodate 10-abreast seating in high-density configuration. All twin-aisle Airbus aircrafts (A300, A310, A330, and the A340) had a common cross-section that could accommodate eight-abreast seating in standard configurations.
- On 01-Dec-2006, the board of directors of Airbus approved the industrial launch of the A350 XWB. The aircraft was available in two variants: the A350-800 (8,480 nmi, 270 passengers in a three-class configuration) and the A350-900 (8,100 nmi — 10,300 nmi, 314 passengers in a three-class configuration.)
- On 04-Jan-2007, Aircraft lessor Pegasus Aviation ordered two A350-800s.
- On 18-Jun-2007, during the 2007 Paris Airshow at the Le Bourget Airport north of Paris, Aircraft lessor Aviation Lease and Finance Company ordered 12 A350-900s with an option for six more A350 XWBs.
- On 18-Jun-2007, Qatar’s Qatar Airways ordered 80 A350 XWBs: 20 A350-800s, 40 A350-900s, and 20 A350-1000s at Paris Airshow.
- On 20-Jun-2007, Aeroflot Russian Airlines from Russia ordered 18 A350-800s, and 4 A350-900s.
- On 20-Jun-2007, Libya’s Afriqiyah Airways ordered six A350-800s.
- On 20-Jun-2007, Aircraft lessor CIT Group ordered five A350-900s.
- On 20-Jun-2007, Kingfisher Airlines from India ordered five A350-800s.
- On 05-Oct-2007, America’s US Airways ordered 18 A350-800s, and 4 A350-900s.
- On 26-Oct-2007, Aircraft lessor ILFC ordered 6 A350-800s, and 14 A350-900s.
- On 11-Nov-2007, Dubai’s Emirates ordered 120 A350 XWBs: 50 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s with an option for 50 more A350 XWBs.
- On 13-Nov-2007, Yemen’s Yemenia ordered 10 A350-800s.
- On 14-Nov-2007, a VIP customer ordered one A350-900.
- On 26-Nov-2007, Portugal’s TAP Portugal ordered 12 A350-900s with an option for three more A350 XWBs.
- On 28-Nov-2007, America’s Hawaiian Airlines ordered six A350-800s, with an option for six more A350 XWBs.
- On 10-Dec-2007, Libya’s Libyan Airlines ordered four A350-800s.
- On 21-Dec-2007, Vietnam Airlines from Vietnam ordered 10 A350-900s with an option for two more A350 XWBs.
- On 21-Jan-2008, Avianca from Columbia ordered 10 A350-900s with an option for 10 more A350 XWBs.
- On 22-Jan-2008, Taiwan’s China Airlines ordered 14 A350-900s with an option for six more A350 XWBs.
- On 13-Feb-2008, TAM Airlines from Brazil ordered 27 A350-900s with an option for 10 more A350 XWBs.
- On 11-Apr-2008, Ireland’s Aer Lingus ordered nine A350-900s with an option for six more A350 XWBs.
- On 04-Jun-2008, Italy’s Alitalia ordered 12 A350-800s with an option for 12 more A350 XWBs.
- On 09-Jul-2008, Airbus began wind tunnel testing for the A350.
- On 14-Jul-2008, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways ordered 12 A350-1000s with an option for 10 more A350 XWBs.
- On 15-Jul-2008, Tunisair from Tunisia ordered three A350-800s.
- On 16-Jul-2008, Korea’s Asiana Airlines ordered 30 aircrafts: 8 A350-800s, 12 A350-900s, and 10 A350-1000s with an option for 10 more A350 XWBs.
- On 17-Jul-2008, a VIP customer ordered one A350-900.
- On 13-Jan-2009, Airbus began construction on the Final Assembly Line (FAL) for the Airbus A350 XWB model. Once the plant hits full production, the FAL is expected to employ some 1,500 people, build ten aircraft a month beginning 2018, and have an area of 74,000 square meters.
- On 16-Jun-2009, AirAsia from Malaysia ordered 10 A350-900s with an option for five more A350 XWBs.
- On 29-Sep-2009, Airbus successfully tested the wing tester (“demo box 2”) on an installation of the wings of the A350 XWB.
- On 15-Nov-2009, Ethiopia’s Ethiopian Airlines ordered 12 A350-900s.
- On 10-Mar-2010, America’s United Airlines ordered 25 A350-900s with an option for 50 more A350 XWBs.
- On 13-May-2010, Airbus launched three-dimensional validation of the A350 XWB electrical harness installation. It was problems with installation of the electrical harnesses that delayed the delivery of A380 to customers.
- On 04-Aug-2010, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific ordered 36 A350-900s.
- On 13-Oct-2010, a second Hong Kong-based airline, Hong Kong Airlines, ordered 15 A350-900s.
- On 04-Nov-2010, China’s Air China ordered 10 A350-900s.
- On 12-Nov-2010, Airbus announced that the first delivery date of the A350-900, the first model to be developed, had slipped from mid-2013 to the second half of 2013 due to the “transition phase from design to manufacturing is a bit longer.”
- On 18-Jun-2011, Airbus and Rolls-Royce declared the development of the A350-1000 XWB model (8,420 nmi, 350 passengers in a three-class configuration) with powerful Trent XWB engines capable of delivering 97,000 pounds of thrust.
- On 11-Aug-2011, Thai Airways from Thailand ordered four A350-900s.
- On 23-Dec-2011, Airbus began assembly of the fuselage the first A350-900 XWB (MSN1) in Toulouse, France.
- On 18-Feb-2012, Airbus and Rolls-Royce successfully tested the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB test engine on an A380 “flying-testbed.” The test aircraft conducted tests at different altitudes and speeds. The A380 reached a maximum altitude of 43,000 feet and maximum speed of Mach .9 (1102 kph).
- On 05-Apr-2012, Airbus began final assembly of the first A350-900 XWB (MSN1) in Toulouse, France.
- On 08-Aug-2012, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific converted 16 A350-900s from an earlier order to the -1000 model, and ordered 10 more A350-1000s.
- On 01-Oct-2012, Libya’s Afriqiyah Airways cancelled six A350-800s and ordered 10 A350-900s.
- On 23-Nov-2012, Airbus transferred the A350 XWB static test airframe to a test facility for validation of the A350 airframe.
- On 03-Dec-2012, Qatar Airways converted their original order of 20 A350-800s, 40 A350-900s, and 20 A350-1000s to 43 A350-900s and 37 A350-1000s. For several years, Boeing’s marketing campaign has tried to cast doubt on the viability of the A350-800 model. Airbus has tried to switch customers to the -900 model casting doubt about the future of the -800 model.
- On 13-Dec-2012, Singapore’s Singapore Airlines ordered 20 A350-900s. This was a repeat order from the world’s premier airline.
- On 03-Jan-2013, Aircraft lessor CIT Group ordered 10 A350-900s.
- On 04-Feb-2013, Aircraft lessor Air Lease ordered 20 A350-900s and 5 A350-1000s with an option for five more A350 XWBs.
- On 07-Feb-2013, the European Aviation Safety Agency certified the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB Turbofans.
- On 15-Feb-2013, Airbus reverted to proven nickel cadmium main batteries to avoid unnecessary delays to the A350 program’s timeline.
Final Assembly and Preparations for First Flight
- On 14-Jan-2009, Airbus held a groundbreaking ceremony for the A350 XWB final assembly facility in Toulouse, France. This assembly line (FAL,) built close to the existing A330-A340 production line, was scheduled to be completed during the third quarter of 2010. Once the plant would hit full production, the FAL is expected to employ some 1,500 people, build ten aircraft a month beginning 2018, and have an area of 74,000 square meters.
- On 19-Feb-2013, Airbus began final assembly of the third A350 XWB (MSN3.)
- On 26-Mar-2013, Airbus completed installation of the flight-ready Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and the Honeywell GHT1700 APU on the first flight-test A350-900 XWB. The A350-900 aircraft MSN1 became a finished aircraft to be handed to the Flight Test Team after additional testing and painting.
- On 22-Apr-2013, Aircraft lessor International Airlines Group ordered 18 A350-1000s with an option for 18 more A350 XWBs.
- On 30-Apr-2013, Airbus’s tabulation of orders and deliveries showed that a VIP customer had cancelled orders for one A350-900.
- On 13-May-2013, the first A350-900 XWB (MSN001, tail number F-WXWB) emerged from Airbus’s paint shop. Speculation intensified that Airbus might attempt first flight by the middle of June and debut its aircraft at the 2013 Paris Airshow at the Le Bourget Airport north of Paris.
- On 30-May-2013, Singapore Airlines announced a firm order for 30 more A350-900s and options for 20 more A350 XWB aircraft. According to the terms of the deal, Singapore Airlines could choose either the A350-900 or the A350-1000 model when exercising the 20 options. This third order from Singapore Airlines for the Airbus A350 XWB (Xtra Wide Body) brought the total A350 XWBs ordered by Singapore Airlines to 70 firm orders and 20 options for the A350-900.
- On 2-Jun-2013, Airbus fired up the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and the Honeywell Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) on the first A350-900 XWB aircraft (MSN001 / F-WXWB) in preparation for the aircraft’s debut flight. Airbus also released the A350 XWB Magazine App for iPads and Androids in preparation to use social media for publicity for the A350’s first flight.
- On 07-Jun-2013, in a video posted by Rupa Haria of Aviation Week magazine, Airbus’s A350XWB project test pilot Frank Chapman confirmed that MSN001 / F-WXWB had completed taxi tests on 05-Jun-2013. Having completed the high-power runs of the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines previously, the test flight department planned to perform high-speed taxi speeds in preparation for first flight. Aircraft prototypes typically undergo a two day-long full engineering check after high-speed taxi tests before first flight.
- On 12-Jun-2013, Airbus confirmed that the first flight of the A350-900 XWB was planned for 14-Jun-2013 (Friday) pending final pre-first flight tests and inspections. Subject to favorable weather conditions, MSN001 / F-WXWB was planned to take off from the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in Southern France at 10:00 AM. Airbus had scheduled the A350’s first flight three days before the opening of the 2013 edition of the Paris Air Show (Salon international de l’aeronautique et de l’espace, Paris-Le Bourget) where the A350 XWB was expected to perform a simple fly-past.
Airbus A350 XWB First Flight (14-Jun-2013)
- On 14-Jun-2013, at 10:00 AM local time, Airbus’s first A350 XWB, (a -900 MSN001, tail number F-WXWB) took off from runway 32L successfully for the very first time, with a crowd of 12,000 Airbus personnel and public at the Toulouse-Blagnac airport. Staffed by two test pilots and four engineers in orange jump suits, helmets, and parachutes, MSN001 headed towards the Pyrenees after take-off for a four-hour first flight that flew speeds of up to Mach .80 (608 mph) and altitudes of up to 25,000 feet. After analyses of data recorded from the first flight, thorough inspection, further system testing, and additional test flights, Airbus was expected to do a fly-by at the Paris Airshow during the week following the first flight.
During and at the Paris Air Show 2013
The 50th edition of the Paris Air Show was held from 10-Jun-2013 through 14-Jun-2013 at the Le Bourget airport outside of Paris, France. Airbus won US$68.7 billion-worth of aircraft orders during the airshow.
- On 19-Jun-2013, Air France-KLM, the Paris-based French-Dutch airline holding company and parent of both Air France and KLM ordered 25 A350-900 aircraft with options for 25 more A350-900 aircraft.
- On 19-Jun-2013, Sri Lanka’s state-owned Sri Lankan Airlines ordered four A350-900 aircraft.
- On 19-Jun-2013, Airbus flew the A350-900 XWB prototype (MSN001, F-WXWB) on its second test flight at the Toulouse-Blagnac airport. The second flight lasted for over five hours where the aircraft flew at its design maximum speed of 0.89 Mach (676 mph) and reached an altitude of 42,000 ft.
- On 20-Jun-2013, America’s United Airlines converted all the 25 A350-900 airplanes it had previously ordered to the larger -1000 model and ordered an additional 10 A350-1000s. With this incremental order, United Airlines had a total of A350 aircraft ordered from Airbus to replace the Boeing 777s in United’s fleet.
- On 21-Jun-2013, the last day of the Paris Air Show 2013, the first A350-900 XWB (MSN001, F-WXWB) made a flyby at the Paris Air Show 2013. MSN001 made a conservative sweeping low-fly pass at 600 feet above runway 21 at the Le Bourget Airport, without the steep ascents and sharply banked turns common in flight demonstrations at airshows. This was the A350’s third flight and the aircraft had taken off from Toulouse two hours earlier.
- On 25-Jun-2013, Scandinavian Airlines, the flag carrier of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for eight A350-900 aircrafts.
- By 15-Jul-2013, the first A350-900 XWB, MSN1 / F-WXWB, had completed 92 flight test hours of testing. According to a press release from Airbus, this first phase of flight tests had involved tests of the engines, electrical systems, the ram air turbine (RAT), landing-gear, brakes, fuel systems, cabin pressure, autopilot and autoland systems. The aircraft was to go through a scheduled maintenance and upgrades to the flight test installation in preparation for the second phase of the flight test campaign. MSN1 was to be joined by a fleet of four more A350 XWB aircrafts during the 2,500 hour-long testing and certification campaign for the A350 XWB aircraft.
- On 19-Sep-2013, Germany’s Lufthansa (Airbus’s biggest airline customer and operator) committed to buying up to 55 A350-900 aircraft (25 firm and 30 options). The commitment also gave Lufthansa the flexibility to convert some of the order to the larger A350-1000 aircraft.
- On 25-Sep-2013, the International Airline Group (IAG) signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus to buy 18 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft plus 18 options. The International Airline Group (IAG) is the parent company of British Airways and Spain’s Iberia. The 36 A350-1000 aircraft were designated for British Airways.
- On 03-Oct-2013, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for the order of eight A350-900 plus eight options for A350-900, in addition to four A330-300 Enhanced aircraft. SAS’s Airbus A350 were to be delivered from the year 2018.
- On 07-Oct-2013, Airbus received a landmark order from Japan Airlines (JAL) 18 A350-900s, 13 A350-1000s, plus options for a further 25 A350-XWB aircraft. After decades of near-dominance by Boeing of the aircraft market in Japan, this was the first order Airbus ever received from Japan Airlines.
- On 14-Oct-2013, the second A350 XWB test aircraft successfully completed its first flight. MSN3’s first flight lasted approximately five hours. MSN1 and MSN3 were to be joined by three more A350 XWB test aircraft and complete 2,500 hours leading to type certification.
- On 17-Nov-2013, at the 2013 Dubai Airshow, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways announced a firm order for 50 A350 XWBs, which comprised of 40 A350-900s and 10 A350-1000s.
- On 17-Nov-2013, at the 2013 Dubai Airshow, Boeing launched the response to the threat that the A350 posed to its 777 and 787 aircrafts by launching the 777X with record-breaking orders. Boeing claimed that the 777X would feature technology introduced on the 787 Dreamliner and evolving newer technologies such as an all-new composite wing and many aerodynamic advances. The 777X would feature the all-new GE9X engines developed by General Electric. Boeing claimed that the 777X would be 12 percent more fuel efficient than the A350. With 259 orders and commitments, the launch of the 777X represents the most successful launch of any airline program thus far. Emirates ordered 150, Qatar Airways 50, and Etihad Airways 25 new 777X aircrafts to add to a previously-announced launch order for 34 777X from Germany’s Lufthansa (34).
- On 18-Nov-2013, also at the 2013 Dubai Airshow, the Tripoli-based startup airline Libyan Wings ordered three A350-900 jets to build a wider network after commencing short-haul services in 2014.
- On 20-Dec-2013, Air Caraibes, the regional airline of the French Caribbean signed a firm contract with Airbus for three A350-1000s. Concurrently, Air Caraibes announced that it would lease three new A350-900s from ILFC.
- On 20-Feb-2014, Kuwait Airways ordered ten A350-900 aircraft as part of its fleet renewal strategy. On 09-Dec-2013, Kuwait Airways and Airbus had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard.
- On 05-Feb-2014, A350 XWB flight test aircraft MSN3 stopped at Doha’s new Hamad international airport, en route to the Singapore Airshow and completed preliminary Entry-into-Service (EiS) preparations. Qatar Airways is the launch customer for A350 XWB and was lined up to receive it’s first A350, an A350-900, in Q4 of 2014.
- On 10-Feb-2014, A350 XWB flight test aircraft MSN3 arrived in Singapore Changi Airport for it’s first airshow at the Singapore Airshow. En route, the flight test exercises on MSN3 passed the milestone of 1000 flight test hours (out of the estimated 2,500 fight test hours) for the A350’s certification.
- On 26-Feb-2014, The A350 XWB flight test aircrafts, MSN2 and MSN4, took to the skies in Toulouse, France, for their first flights. This milestone resulted in the total number of A350 XWBs now flying from two to four.
- A350 XWB flight test aircraft MSN2, which featured a distinctive “carbon” livery, was to be the first A350 XWB test aircraft to include a full passenger cabin for validating the cabin and passenger-related systems. As part of these cabin tests, MSN2 would carry the first A350 XWB passengers during the Early Long Flights (ELF) in spring.
- A350 XWB flight test aircraft MSN4 featured a special hybrid livery based on the livery of launch customer Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways had ordered 43 A350-900 aircrafts and 37 A350-1000 aircrafts.
- By 28-Feb-2014, the Airbus A350 XWB program is estimated to have completed about 45% of its test hours in about 40% of the test timetable. The first two A350 flight test aircrafts, MSN1 and MSN3, had performed 1100 flight test hours out of the 2500 hours of flight-testing planned for certification of the A350 aircraft.
One thought on “Timeline of the Airbus A350 XWB (Xtra Wide Body) Program including Orders-History”
Thank you for this wonderful summary of the newest man-made creature of the skies, the Airbus A350xwb. I am an Airbus-er, in love with the ‘Buses from 330 onward (what honest av-geek could not droll from the 380, -buser or Boeing-ite?) but like the newest Boeings (777, 787 and the -8 reincarnation of the 747) even-though I detest Boeing as an entity. Anyway, my brief rant aside, I have bookmarked your home site and will be reading it instead of twittling my thumbs or working on personal projects which should be grabbing my precious time. Thank you again, donll