Fuel-frugal Airbus stops off in NZ

ROELAND VAN DEN BERGH
Last updated 05:00 09/08/2014
A350
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ

CURVY BIRD: The swooping shape of the new Airbus A350 at Auckland International Airport.

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The world's newest airliner, the Airbus A350, has called into Auckland as part of a global test flight programme.

The wide-body A350 is the French planemaker's response to America's Boeing 787.

To the casual observer there is little to set the two aircraft apart. The A350's curved-up wingtips are the distinguishing feature.

On board, bigger windows for more light, while higher cabin air pressure and more humidity make long-distance flying more comfortable for the 315 passengers.

Like the 787, the A350 features a fuselage made entirely of lightweight carbon-fibre composite, dispensing with the traditional aluminium skin.

About half the aircraft is made of carbon fibre and the rest from high-quality metals such as titanium.

Airbus A350 marketing director Mike Bauser said the aircraft was 25 per cent more fuel-efficient than the Boeing 777 it also competes with, offering a sizeable operating cost saving for airlines.

It was also slightly more frugal than the 787, thanks to a newer variant of the Rolls-Royce Trent engines, Bauser said.

Before the first A350-900 can go into service with Qatar Airways at the end of the year it must demonstrate that it can fly a virtual schedule comprising short and long-haul flights.

The world tour includes 14 major airports and one route via the North Pole. Fairfax NZ

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