Fuel-frugal Airbus stops off in NZ
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