A350 XWB Comes to Life with Vertical Tail & Livery

A350 XWB Vertical Tail Painted in Airbus Livery

A350 XWB Vertical Tail Painted in Airbus Livery

New Airbus A350 XWB coming together

When it comes to new aircraft construction, the one item painted first is the tail. The first A350 – MSN1 – is coming together with the composite built, vertical tail now sporting the Airbus Blue-White Livery.

Airbus was initially looking to fly MSN1 this year, but components were slow at coming together.

The tail is 10 meters tall and was produced at Airbus’ Stade site in Germany. The vertical tail plane is joined to the fuselage using an innovative, lighter connection that’s more aerodynamic.

The paint used by airbus for all surfaces, including the vertical tail plane, is painted with the environment kept in demand. A chromate free primer paint is used as Airbus follows best practice from the automobile industry. Airbus uses a new base coat system which requires less paint as well as less solvent. This will later mean less detergent used when cleaning the aircraft.

On the inside, Airbus uses a water-based paint wherever possible, one of the most environmentally friendly types of paint available.

More About the A350 XWB Program

As the Boeing 787 becomes popular among passengers, this will be the first Airbus to use a similar carbon-fiber composite material in both the fuselage and wing structures. Like the 787, the cabin will be pressurized at 6,000 feet above level instead of 8,000 feet, which is the usual on most aircraft.

Initially derived from the A330, Airbus customers asked the design be tossed and a new, clean-sheet aircraft be built with airline input. A new design was created, making the A350 a new-build aircraft.

The XWB stands for Extra Wide Body, but we shall see how much space passengers have once the aircraft is complete and seats installed.

The launch customer,Qatar Airwayshas ordered 80 aircraft with three variants.

One early concern was the engines because the launch carrier and others likeEtihad Airwaysneed the ability to operate in hot and high conditions.

Rolls Royce engines are being developed specifically for the A350 XWB aircraft, also allowing for safe hot and high operations.

In 2006, during development, Airbus said the A350 XWB will not only be fuel-efficient, but will beat the 787 with 8% lower operating costs. As to the actual operating cost, the A350 XWB has yet to fly.

Airbus plans to compete head-on with the Boeing 777 and larger models of the 787 Dreamliner based on the size of the Dreamliner. The three proposed variants are A350-800, A350-900, and A350-1000, powered by two Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines.

A number of carriers including Thai, Singapore and Cathay Pacific have aircraft on orders, as well as two US carriers, United Airlines and US Airways.

The first test flight of the A350 XWB is expected to take place in early 2013.

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