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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Airbus A350 XWB and Boeing 787 Dreamliner (Future of Aviation)

If you removed its name in the spec sheet, Airbus’ forthcoming A350 XWB (eXtra Wide Body) passenger jet could easily be confused with its primary rival, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It will take a while before you can easily distinguish one from the other once they are both regularly in the air.

The A350 will be made from 53 per cent carbon fiber; the 787 is 50 per cent carbon fiber. Both are long range and can fly in excess of 8,000 miles without refueling. Somewhat bigger, the A350 will have 270-440 seats to the 787’s is 210-330. Both come in three models although the smallest 787 is dropped.

A350 or Boeing 787? (answer : A350)
The A350 promises 25 per cent fuel consumption improvement from its “current long range nearest competitor (it’s unclear what plane Airbus is comparing the A350 to on fuel efficiency, but offers it as a replacement for “any [Boeing] 747 operator”); the 787 claims to deliver 15 per cent better fuel efficiency over the similarly-sized (and aged) Boeing 767.

The 787 has 876 orders from 53 customerswhile the A350 has 505 from 32 customers (about what the 787 had at the same stage in its development). The A350 windows are wider; the 787’s are taller.

It goes on and on like that. For the flyer, you say ToeMAYto, I say ToeMAHto.

Of course, there are major differences.

One area in the A350 that will distinguish it from other passengers jetliners, though, will be the cockpit which will have six “very large LCD displays” comprising the flight information center instead of the 10 found in the A380 super jumbojet (much of the technology in the A350 was hatched in the A380). Solid state electronics in the cockpit also reduce the need for the hundreds of individual circuit breakers typically found in jetliners.

Six "very large" displays in the A350 cockpit. credit: Airbus

Airbus expects to enter the A350 into service in 2013
Boeing already ship the first 787 to customers in the fourth quarter of this year.

Given the scale of investment, the effort to design jetliners and competiton in the same markets, it stands to reason they are similar in both size and technology. But it doesn’t always work that way: Airbus developed the huge and successful A380 while Boeing concentrated on the more modest 787.

Another major difference is that the biggest model, the A350 1000, will carry up to 100 passengers more than the biggest 787. Boeing’s answer to that is the 747-8 Intercontinental, a new model of the world’s first jumbojet.

The A350 will be a lot more expensive than the 787. It lists for $225-$285 million; At $150-$205 million, the 787 is a relative bargain. Those prices are usually discounted, but the starting point for the conversation would clearly seem to favor Boeing unless the A350 turns out to be that much better.

Buying something as sophisticated as jetliners, however, isn’t just a head-on comparison of price performance. Years of dealmaking includes courtships, politics and occasionally, bribes. Time and sales wise, though, the A350 has to climb much higher to reach cruising altitude than the 787 at this point.

One area where I think Airbus is considerably ahead of Boeing is its web site. is more easier searched and much more visually pleasing. But can that translate into an edge in airplane performance..and sales?

The A350 XWB will be a faster, more efficient and quieter aircraft as the result of its advanced wing design – which combines aerodynamic enhancements already validated on the A380 with further improvements developed by Airbus engineers. Built primarily from carbon composite materials, the wing is optimised through extensive use of computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel testing for a fast cruise speed of Mach 0.85. This reduces trip times, improves overall efficiency, and extends the aircraft’s range.

All three A350 XWB family members share the same wing planform – with a 64.7-metre wingspan, a total area of 442 sq. metres, and high swept leading edge. In addition the internal wing structure will be scaled to meet the specific requirements of each aircraft variant.

Innovative concepts applied to the A350 XWB wing’s high-lift devices will reduce noise and drag while also improving the aircraft’s low-speed performance. One of these innovations is the stream-wise deployment of trailing-edge flaps. On a traditional swept-wing jetliner, the outboard flaps extend at an angle to the airflow. For the A350 XWB, flap deployment is along the direction of flight – resulting in better lift efficiency and improved low-speed performance, while reducing aerodynamic-generated noise.

Other A350 XWB wing enhancements include the adoption of a drop-hinge mechanism to improve the flap’s deployment kinetics, along with the introduction of a downwards movement for the upper wing spoilers to fill the gaps that occur when flaps are extended. In addition, the A350 XWB’s flight computer will perform in-flight trimming of the inboard and outboard flaps, creating a variable camber wing that adapts to different flight conditions.

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The key to the exceptional performance of the 787 Dreamliner is a suite of new technologies developed and applied on the airplane. Composite materials make up 50 percent of the primary structure of the 787 including the fuselage and wing.
Modern systems architecture is at the heart of the 787's design. It is simpler than today's airplanes and offers increased functionality and efficiency. For example, the team has incorporated airplane health-monitoring systems that allow the airplane to self-monitor and report systems maintenance requirements to ground-based computer systems.
New engines from General Electric and Rolls-Royce are used on the 787. Advances in engine technology are the biggest contributor to overall fuel efficiency improvements. The new engines represent nearly a two-generation jump in technology for the middle of the market.

The design and build process of the 787 has added further efficiency improvements. New technologies and processes have been developed to help Boeing and its supplier partners achieve the efficiency gains. For example, manufacturing a one-piece fuselage section has eliminated 1,500 aluminum sheets and 40,000 - 50,000 fasteners.


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Live to love and love to live. The motto that I held on my entire life. Just a regular guy who loves what I am passionate in life. A song writer and producer. Living life on the move. From Malaysia to The States, New Zealand to Singapore. With the companion of great people in life. In and out from the music industry. Taking everything one step at a time. 
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