That’s because looking at the fate of the previous all new design, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, it too looked fantastic inside until the reality of airlines stuffing as many seats as inhumanely possible inside them became apparent in service.
But hold the pessimism. Airbus this week flew real people, its employees, inside an A350-900 fitted with a very reasonable 252 seats in a business class/economy class format, in order to shake down the soon to enter service type and find out what if anything breaks, jams, and fails to work as intended, under real passenger flight conditions.
Nothing apparently broke inside the A35o, which is the second such airliner among a test and certification fleet of five of the twin aisle twin engined long range jets.
The writer can still remember the smashing sounds from inside an A380 demonstrator flight five or six months before it went into service in 2007, when an entire drinks trolley loaded with champagne, and flutes, unrestrained itself and crashed to the floor somewhere near Canberra.
The A380 is so quiet that this tragic instance of equipment failure could be heard right down to the hissing escape of champagne bubbles from both ends of the double decker giant.
This is what Airbus had to say about the trial flights “in typical airline operating conditions”, meaning not with 370 or 450 seats or whatever some of most of its airline customers will try to fly it.
The A350 XWB MSN2 completed successfully the “Early Long Flight” campaign involving two flights with passengers operated consecutively by Air France and Lufthansa cabin crews earlier this week.
Early Long Flights are an important achievement towards the A350’s entry into service. Though not part of the technical certification programme, these flights allow Airbus to assess the cabin environment and systems in flight ahead of final certification ensuring that airlines will benefit from a fully mature aircraft from day one of commercial operations.
Both A350 XWB Early Long Flights took off from and landed in Toulouse. The first flight, a day time flight, took place on Monday 2June and lasted seven hours, while the second one, an overnight flight lasting twelve hours, left Toulouse on Tuesday 3June and landed on 4June.
The flights featured nine across economy seating. Customer AirAsia X says it will fly it in a 10 across format, and it is a trend setter in this part of the world.
Apart from Air Asia’s long haul franchise flying the jet here, other early users of the A350 expected to fly the type to Australia include Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and United, all of whom, at this stage, are considered highly unlikely to inflict similar seating density on their customers.
However they are also unlikely to offer fares as low as the Malaysian budget carrier.