Most days I love my job. Today I really, really, really love it. I was one of a handful of journalists invited on board the A350-XWB test aircraft (MSN002) to explore the cabin as fitted with passenger features. This means there were seats, galleys and overhead bins installed, along with lots of test equipment.
I was able to sit in the seats and try things out to get a feel for how the plane will be when real passengers get to fly it. Sure, it was only for a few minutes, but it was still awesome.
Airbus is sticking to their guns that the ideal cabin layout in economy is 3-3-3. And I completely agree with that sentiment. It keeps seat width at 18″ and sufficient room in the aisles. But they’re also willing to sell it as a 3-4-3 layout. Boeing is doing the same with their 777s which are 10 inches wider in the cabin and that’s not much fun. Doing it on the A350 would be worse as I see the numbers. Interestingly there are only 4 seat options for economy class; airlines MUST buy one of the Airbus-approved options for that cabin. The framer says it is about ensuring delivery timelines and reliability and that’s not too hard to believe. Recaro, B/E Aerospace and Zodiac all have options in the catalog so most airlines should do just fine with those choices.
In business class airlines can choose one of the five stock options (the much loved Zodiac Cirrus is on the list) or choose another vendor coordinated with Airbus. The demo plane we were on had the Sogerma Solstys seats in business. They were pretty comfy, as expected from the product which is in a number of other aircraft already.
Remember how I said it was still a test aircraft? They took out a few rows in the back and had a full monitoring and testing kit set up.
As for the pipes, they’re on board to simulate passengers. The test hardware heats them to body temperatures during the test flights.
And, of course, a #laviator selfie. Not great, but also not much time to work with there.
The overhead bins are quite large, but I don’t think I’ll fit.
Overall I think the plane shows a lot of promise. There are definitely some nice features vis a vis space and cabin layout options. Now we just have to hope that the airlines don’t screw it up by jamming too many seats in.
As for the giveaway, the tour came with a small bundle of goodies from Airbus that I’m passing on. A nice luggage tag is the main bit, plus an A350 lanyard and pen. Want it??
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.