Airbus’s new A350-1000 aircraft has commenced its three-week demonstration tour of the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, making a stop in Hong Kong yesterday.
Business Traveller Asia-Pacific was invited onboard the new aircraft. As this is just a demonstration aircraft, it offers an idea of how airlines may lay out their cabins, however seat products will be different to what travellers will experience in the future as each airline will have its own products and layout for the A350-1000.
The A350-1000 has a longer body than its predecessor, the currently operating A350-900, enabling it to fit 40 additional seats across business and economy class. Other new features include a modified wing trailing edge that can change shape during the flight; six-wheel main landing gears and more powerful Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines.
The cabin uses an Airspace design featuring “smooth curves, flowing lines and innovative lighting”. It has LED ambient lighting – airlines can choose from 16.7 million colours to create their desired mood. Carriers can also choose sunrise and sunset themes to help reduce passengers’ jetlag.
The dividing walls between the cabins and the galley and crew rest areas have also been designed to absorb a degree of sound.
The overhead storage provides greater space, allowing a maximum of five cabin-sized suitcases to be placed in each compartment.
There is no overhead storage in the middle row of the business class cabin, providing plenty of headroom. Though even in economy, where there is overhead storage in the middle row, there is still plenty of room to stand up.
The demonstration flight had 40 business class seats in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration, and the seat product – Sogerma Solstys – is similar to those found on Thai Airways’ and Hong Kong Airlines’ A350-900s. In this configuration, the seats offer 44 inches of pitch, 21 inches of width and recline to a 74-inch fully flat bed.
Business class has just one cabin with a dedicated door for premium passengers.
Airbus said this consolidated design was based on feedback from airline customers who suggested this would make it easier for cabin crew to provide a more focused, higher-quality service.
In the next cabin, the demonstration A350-1000 offered 36 Zodiac economy plus class seats arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration with a seat pitch of 34 inches.
This was followed by 219 economy class seats, also in 3-3-3 setup, with 32 inches of pitch and a width of 18 inches. The legroom felt quite plentiful (despite being 190cm tall, I still had space for my knees even when the seat in front was reclined) and the width was adequate.
Airbus currently has 169 orders for the new A350-1000 from a total of 11 customers – ALC, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Air Caraibes, Virgin Atlantic, Iran Air, Latam, Asiana, Etihad, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways.
Launch customer, Qatar Airways, will receive the first of its 37 A350-1000s in the coming weeks, followed by Cathay Pacific and Etihad, which have ordered 20 and 22 respectively.
Business Traveller was live on Facebook during the demonstration tour. You can watch the video below.