The world’s newest jetliner, the Airbus A350, took to the skies today carrying its first paying passengers from Qatar to Frankfurt, Germany.
The Qatar Airways flight departed the Qatari capital of Doha in the morning and landed around 12:30 p.m. local time in Frankfurt, Germany.
Qatar has 79 more A350s on order and will deploy it to other European destinations, the Far East, Indian subcontinent and ultra-long-haul flights to the eastern seaboard of the USA.
Qatar’s version is fitted out with 36 business class seats that turn into fully flat beds and boast 17-inch TV screens and an economy class section with 247 seats, with smaller TVs.
Benefits of the A350
In part, the A350 is Airbus’ answer to Boeing’s Dreamliner. Like the Dreamliner, the new A350 is made partially from lightweight carbon composite fibers that improve fuel efficiency and enhance comfort for passengers by allowing for things like larger windows and more comfortable pressurization and humidity levels.
Also like the Dreamliner, Airbus promises the jet will allow airlines to begin flying routes between cities that previously could not profitably support nonstop service.
Airbus says the A350, which can fly 276 to 369 passengers, will help open up nonstop routes like Shanghai to Boston or Paris to Santiago, Chile.
Last new generation aircraft for a while
The A350 is the last completely new aircraft to come online in the foreseeable future. Neither Boeing nor Airbus have any all-new models under way, so it could be more than 10 years before we see another new design from the big two aircraft makers.
The A350 is the third major new aircraft in a decade. It follows the A380 and the Boeing 787.
A larger version of the jet, which is scheduled to start flying in 2017, aims to compete with Boeing’s long-range 777-300.