Airbus has reached an important milestone in the A350 XWB program. On Thursday, Iberia received the 500th aircraft of the type in Toulouse, France.
The event comes nearly eight years after the first of these advanced widebodies was delivered. Qatar Airways was the model’s launch customer in December 2014 when it welcomed the A350-900 registration A7-ALA.
The aircraft number 500, registration EC-NXD, went to Madrid where it will join the 14 other jets of the model that are in the fleet of the Spanish carrier.
“When we designed the A350 and delivered the first one, we were extremely proud to have created a real clean sheet, state-of-the-art aircraft, delivering unmatched performance and economics. It offers outstanding space, comfort and quietness to the passengers , and it contributes significantly to decarbonising aviation,” said Philippe Mhun, EVP Programs and Services at Airbus.
But Iberia’s A350-900 is not identical to the first one delivered eight years ago. According to Airbus, the new aircraft incorporates improvements related to the manufacturer’s current production standard. Among them is the weight 1.2 tons less than its predecessors, thanks to the use of composite materials.
The EC-NXD jet also has a 3 tonnes higher maximum take-off weight, which allows for a range of up to 8,000 nautical miles (14,816 km) but with a higher payload.
Internally, the cabin arrangement has been expanded, allowing the A350-900 to carry up to 30 more passengers in a three-class configuration, explains Airbus.
Dispute in the courts
Currently, the A350 flies in 39 airlines around the world, but one of them, precisely its first customer, is fighting a legal battle over problems in the paint layers of its jets.
Qatar Airways is still one of the largest operators of the model, however, the pending delivery units were canceled by Airbus itself.
On the other hand, the European manufacturer is preparing the debut of the A350F, a dedicated freighter version that uses components from the A350-900 and the larger A350-1000.
As of August, there were 430 A350-900s in service in addition to 65 A350-1000s active worldwide.