Part of the  2022 Airbus Summit was a transfer flight on November 30 from Toulouse to Munich in order to get the media party and Airbus staff to Germany for Day 2. For this flight, A350-900 test aircraft MSN002 Airspace Explorer was used and it performed an optimized flight between the two airports. Doing an optimized flight on the Airbus A350-900.

MSN002 has a fully equipped cabin, yet, it has numerous experimental features. One of the latest updates is the installation of the New Production Standard sidewalls that increase cabin width by four inches, allowing for a ten-abreast seat configuration in Economy Class. Although the tenth seat was absent from the aircraft, the new panels were there. Placed right next to the original version, the difference between the two was visible. The new one is less curved and almost looks like the straight sidewalls on an A380.

The difference between the new side wall (left) and the old one (right) is clear. (Richard Schuurman)

Airbus is offering the ten-abreast configuration to customers, but so far, no airline has selected this option. But the wider cabin is already on the newest A350s that were delivered recently to Iberia and Starlux.

002 also has a vast range of different seats, with many variants in the different classes in both Business and Economy Class. They are all there to be tried and tested by Airbus and potential customers. Some seats have new IFE screens and systems. The flexible, slim screens that we saw on the same aircraft last year were absent from this flight, but the Diehl projectors that project images and scenes on the luggage bins and ceiling are still there. This product is also offered to customers but has not been selected by one yet.

Sporty take-off

Flight AIB359 to Munich used an optimized flight trajectory. First, the aircraft used single-engine taxiing from the Airbus Delivery Center in Toulouse to the runway to save fuel. The take-off itself at 5.59 pm local time in the southeastern direction was quite ‘sporty’, with a short take-off roll for the light aircraft at full thrust of the Rolls-Royce XWB-84s. We did a left turn that brought us in a northeast direction, in which we did Continuous Climb Operations steep climb to FL390, passing Lyon, Geneva, and Bern on the way into Munich.  

A graphic showing the flight profile of AIB359. (Richard Schuurman)

Close to Bayeried and some fifteen minutes before the landing, we started our continuous descent approach (CDA). The descent was indeed continuous, although it seemed that at some time, we were leveling off for a short while. The A350 came straight in at Munich Airport at 7.17 pm and taxied to the gate on a single engine again, only to find its original parking space being taken up by another aircraft…

The flight, which used various air traffic control procedures from the Albatross project from Eurocontrol, is said to have saved some 35 percent of fuel compared to a ‘traditional’ flight. 

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Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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