UPDATE – Airbus has delivered the first A350-900 with the New Production Standard 2022. This version has a lower empty weight and a higher maximum take-off weight (MTOW). It also has a wider cabin, which offers space for thirty extra seats in a three-class configuration. The improvements should make the A350 even more competitive. Airbus delivers first A350 with new production standard.
Airbus said that the first aircraft with the NPS 2022 configuration was delivered to Spanish airline Iberia on September 29. The aircraft, MSN567, was also the 500th A350 to be delivered since MSN006 joined Qatar Airways in December 2014. This specific aircraft is currently parked as it is one A350s that is having the paint quality degradation issue and corrosion.
The New Production Standard 2022 version comes with a 1.200 kilograms lower weight, which should bring the maximum zero-fuel weight from 192.000 kilograms to just under 191.000. Airbus says this has been done by increasing the use of advanced materials (carbon-fiber reinforced plastics). Systems, structures, and installations have been changed, including new cables and different water and waste tanks.
At the same time, MTOW has gone up by three tonnes, allowing the aircraft to maintain its maximum range beyond 8.000 nautical miles/14.816 kilometers.
The increase benefits both versions of the A350. For the -900, the extra three tonnes brings MTOW to 283.000 kilograms in what is Weight Variant number 24 of the type. For the A350-1000, MTOW increases to 319.000 kilograms in WV12. The lower empty weight gets the -1000 to just under 219.000 kilograms. Available take-off weights are up by 3,5 tonnes for the -900 and 2.5 tonnes for the -1000. By modifying the software that regulates the slats and flaps on the wings and retrieves the gear more quickly, the A350 has now better take-off and climb characteristics in hot and high circumstances as drag is reduced.
Airbus has also been working on the cabin. By introducing slightly thinner and differently contoured side walls, there is four inches/ten centimeters more space at armrest level. At the same time, the cabin is 35 inches/76.2 centimeters longer without stretching the aircraft. How this is done? “The front wall is pushed forwards a tiny bit and the rear bulkhead is pushed back, almost by a frame. The shape of the bulkhead is efficiently used by the galley architecture”, an Airbus spokesperson explains. Combined, these changes offer space for thirty extra seats in a three-class configuration.
Picture of the new ten-abreast configuration in Economy Class on the A350. (Airbus)
Airbus has more cabin changes up its sleeve. The wider cabin is offered with nine-abreast seating in Economy Class, but the OEM is also offering a ten-abreast version with a 3-4-3 seat configuration and 17-inch seats. With a 3-3-3 arrangement, a seat width of 18.7 inches is optional for more space in Economy or even 19 inches in Premium Economy. “None of the first deliveries of the new standard are ten abreast – all are nine-abreast”, says Airbus.
The 35-inches longer cabin offers new options, like more space for a fourth trolley in the forward galley or an extra lavatory. This has been done by repositioning the staircase to the crew rest area. At the rear, a new XL galley is optional that offers space for six more trolleys.
The A350 also comes now with electro-dimmable windows that were tested before on the A380. Taiwan’s Starlux is the first airline to have selected this option on its -1000s.
The new aft XL-galley on the A350, with more space for trolleys. (Airbus)
Although Airbus said the first A350 with new specs has been delivered to Iberia, it isn’t immediately clear what is different inside the latest and fourteenth A350-900 that Iberia received last week. According to Planespotters.com, the aircraft has the same configuration as the previous thirteen, so with 31 First Class, 24 Business Class, and 293 Economy Class seats. During a presentation on October 25, Airbus showed a 10-abreast version, saying it was for Iberia. It later corrected this and said this configuration isn’t the one used by the Spanish carrier.
Luis Gallego, CEO of Iberia’s parent airline International Airlines Group (IAG), said at its Q2 results presentation in July that the final eight A350-900s on order will get a new Business Class product, new Premium Economy, and wider Economy Class seats this autumn. The inflight entertainment will also get an update. Due to production problems at Recaro, Iberia has received this and a previous A350 without Business Class seats.
(This story was updated on October 26 with additional information from Airbus)
Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.