Airbus is confident the newly certified A350-1000, the biggest twinjet ever developed by the European manufacturer, is in pole position to grab a large slice of the booming traffic growth in the Asia-Pacific market over the next 20 years.

Debuting the A350-1000 at the Singapore Airshow as part of a three-week whistle-stop demonstration tour of the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, Airbus is scheduled to deliver the first production aircraft to launch customer Qatar Airways within the next two weeks. Singapore marks a brief three-day interlude for the test aircraft MSN065, which will continue to Bangkok; Sydney; Auckland, New Zealand; Tokyo; and Manila, Philippines, having visited Doha, Qatar; Muscat, Oman; Hong Kong; Seoul; Taipei, Taiwan; and Hanoi, Vietnam.

Developed to challenge the long-haul, high-capacity 777 market, the A350-1000 has so far attracted 169 orders from 11 airlines. However, Francois Obe, A350 XWB marketing director, says the better-than-expected performance of the big twin puts in a strong position to take advantage of an “unprecedented” period of traffic growth in the Asia-Pacific region. Over the next two decades, Airbus predicts some 4,000 widebody jets will be needed in the sector, representing around 50% of global twinjet demand.

Revealing the outcome of recently completed flight tests, Airbus says the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB97-powered aircraft is meeting or beating performance targets. Empty weight is on specification at 129,000 kg (284,000 lb.), while noise is slightly better than expected with a 16.5 EPNdB (effective perceived noise in decibels) margin to ICAO Chapter 4 standards, allowing the aircraft to meet the stringent QC0.5/1 rules for nighttime operations at London Heathrow – a global yardstick for noise-sensitive arrivals and departures. 

In recent testing the aircraft also showed better-than-expected airfield performance, with the ability to take off at more than 5.3 tonnes higher weights in hot weather conditions, 7.2 tonnes greater weights than forecast out of obstacle limited runways and 3.8 tonnes better out of high altitude airfields. Airbus has meanwhile delivered 142 of the smaller A350-900 sibling version and says dispatch reliability is currently at 99.3%.