28 NOVEMBER 2016
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Europe's largest twin-engine passenger jet, the $356m Airbus A350-1000, took to the skies for the first time on Thursday, performing a 3hr test flight from the Airbus complex at Toulouse.
The 366-seat lightweight aircraft is 7m longer and can carry 40 more people than A350s already in service, and is set to challenge Boeing's dominance in the lucrative "mini-jumbo" sector of large twin-engined jets carrying 350 people.
It is next in line to the new-generation A350-900, which entered service last year and like that model uses similar advanced materials incorporated in the Boeing B787 Dreamliner, said to offer big savings in fuel and more comfort for passengers.
The aircraft in Thursday's flight is one of three that between them will undergo 1,600hr of flight tests before the A350-1000 enters service in the second half of next year.
Airbus divisional chief executive Fabrice Bregier told Reuters he was confident the A350-1000 would be delivered on time to launch customer Qatar Airways. “We are flying according to the timetable we had planned," he said.
Meanwhile, Airbus is said to be facing delivery delays to the earlier A350-900, several of which remain in Toulouse, apparently due to shortages of cabin equipment.
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