Qatar Airways - Design of a Decade
Written by Roger Thiedeman
Following closely in the jet trails of the Airbus A380 recently introduced to Qatar Airways’ ultra-modern fleet, another Airbus product, the brand-new A350 XWB, will soon begin flying in the colours of the Qatari national airline. Significantly, Qatar Airways is the world’s first operator of this technologically advanced airliner, whose type-designation suffix ‘XWB’ stands for ‘Xtra-Wide Body’.
The twin-engined A350 XWB ‘Xtra-Wide Body’ was launched as a concept in 2006, to meet strong demand from airlines worldwide for an improvement on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A330/340 families of wide-body aircraft. From the outset, the proposed new-generation plane was offered in three variants with different seating capacities, dimensions, and engine sub-types, increasing in size and operating weight from the A350-800 through to -900 and -1000 models.
Recognising the potential of the many benefits attributed to the A350 XWB design, Qatar Airways placed orders for 80 of the type, comprising 43 and 37 of the A350-900 and A350-1000, respectively. As the first aircraft from that order, an MSN006 A350-900, commences service with the airline, the proof of those technical enhancements will be readily apparent to passengers, pilots, cabin crew members, and airline officials alike.
Passengers will appreciate the wider cabin – as suggested by the XWB type name – with a greater feeling of spaciousness than in comparable airliners. Then there are the windows. Larger than those on any previous Airbus and wider even than the 787’s, they were designed in response to passengers’ preferences for a more ‘panoramic’ view outside rather than a taller or vertical one.
But comfort for Qatar Airways’ guests aboard its A350 XWB aircraft doesn’t end there. The latest air management systems incorporated by Airbus guarantee that the air throughout the cabin is changed every two to three minutes, while a uniform temperature is maintained in draught-free conditions. More importantly, the lower cabin altitude compared to older-generation planes ensures a higher oxygen content in the air that passengers and crews breathe, leaving them refreshed and less fatigued even during ultra-long-range flights.
To satisfy demands for eco-friendliness and greater operational economics, the A350 XWB is lighter than other airliners in its class. With 70% of its structure comprising CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic) composites, titanium, and modern grades of aluminium, less fuel is burned and, therefore, carbon dioxide emissions are reduced. Another benefit of the CFRP fuselage is easier and more cost-effective maintenance.
Also delivering low fuel burn, reduced emissions, and high performance are the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines (the world’s most efficient large aero engine), designed and developed specifically to power the A350 XWB family of aircraft. Anyone technically minded would be fascinated by the A350’s ultra-efficient wing, featuring variable camber and differential flap settings. In layperson’s terms, this enables the wing shape to be optimised throughout flight, to account for changes in weight as fuel is burned off.
With the A350 XWB, Qatar Airways is well equipped to maintain its status as one of the world’s most progressive and successful airlines, with passenger comfort, exemplary service, commitment to lower emissions, and proactive contribution to an eco-friendly, ‘green’ environment as its key objectives.