Qatar Airways, to much fanfare, took delivery today of the first commercial A350-900. Not only is this the first serial production A350 to be delivered to a customer, it is also the first of 80 A350s headed for Qatar Airways. Qatar has 36 additional -900s on order as well as 43 -1000s.
The A350 itself represents a technological leap for Airbus, as it is their first aircraft to be over 50% composite materials; 53%, technically – including the longest manufactured single pieces of carbon fiber that make up the wing assembly. The remainder of the aircraft is made up of modern metallurgical feats that manifest themselves as lighter titanium and aluminum alloys.
If that wasn’t enough to impress you, the A350 is the first aircraft certified by the EASA to operate ETOPS 370 missions prior to entry-into-service (EIS). ETOPS 370 is the next phase of Extended-range Twin Operations, allowing an aircraft to be certified to fly on one engine for more than six hours. This opens up a whole host of new destinations for twin-engine aircraft, as well as adds efficiencies to existing air routes as airlines will no longer have to “hug” strategic alternate airports as tightly.