Saturday, January 10, 2015

Qatar Airways A350 XWB Introduced to the World

By Seth Miller from Doha / Published January 10, 2015

The eyes and ears of the aviation world focused on Doha last week as the Qatar Airways A350XWB-900 was officially introduced to the world. The aircraft will enter service on the Doha-Frankfurt route starting on 15 January 2015. And the company is understandably excited to show off its newest aircraft, so much so that it hosted media from around the world, including AirwaysNews.com, in Doha for the spectacle.

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EXTRA: Qatar Airways Takes Delivery of World’s First Airbus A350 XWB

Walk-up bar area in business class on the Qatar Airways A350

Walk-up bar area in business class on the Qatar Airways A350

Business class cabin on the Qatar Airways A350

Business class cabin on the Qatar Airways A350

The press conference and associated walk through of the plane were mostly as expected. The airline, Airbus and Rolls Royce took turns reminding the media about all the improvements the A350 offers, from increased fuel efficiency to reduced noise. The new interior offers the latest in-flight entertainment system with large screens and broad content selections. And, assuming the Inmarsat GX satellite network launches successfully in the coming year, the A350 will soon have a global connectivity suite offering high speed connectivity on board. Combine that with wider seats in economy class (18″ width in a 3-3-3 layout) and a very spacious 1-2-1 layout in business class and passengers should be quite comfortable on board.

EXTRA: In-Flight Review: Qatar’s A350 Delivery Flight to Doha

Economy cabin on the Qatar Airways A350

Economy cabin on the Qatar Airways A350

Taking the IFE system for a spin on the Qatar Airways A350

Taking the IFE system for a spin on the Qatar Airways A350

And, while the event was mostly about the A350 of today, company CEO Akbar Al Baker made waves with announcements about future developments which should have the industry on edge.

Lots of space and nifty window shades in the Qatar Airways A350 business class cabin

Lots of space and nifty window shades in the Qatar Airways A350 business class cabin

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The End of First Class

Qatar Airways will no longer be installing first class seats on its new aircraft. Al Baker indicated that the company is comfortable with a two-cabin configuration and that only the A380s will have a first class cabin going forward. He also suggested that we are a year away from seeing a brand new business class product which will make even today’s reasonably luxurious offering seem below par.

The Super Business Class, from 2016 which is next year, will be obsolete. We are developing a new seat [for] which we will have proprietary rights and this will be a product that will be unrivaled in our industry. And when you introduce that product into the airplane I really don’t think you need a first class in the aircraft. Qatar Airways has decided to have only two classes in our airplanes and the only aircraft that will have first class will be the Airbus A380.

And, as is often his style, Al Baker slipped in one last comment at the end of the statement, almost as an afterthought:

And we will have a double bed with only a business class fare.

This certainly will upset the industry norms. Further details are not yet available on this double bed in business class but one source suggests that we will learn more in the coming weeks and possibly see some details at the ITB Berlin trade show in early March 2015.

EXTRA: What the Airbus A350 means to Qatar Airways’ fleet planning

Aircraft Tracking

The topic of aircraft tracking is a hot button issue to many in the industry and Qatar Airways aims to be on the forefront in this space as well. While regulatory groups make slow progress towards standards and recommendations Qatar Airways is moving forward with a trial program for such efforts.

Qatar Airways is already making an experiment with a supplier – I am not a liberty to tell you who is the supplier or from which country because I cannot advertise them in front of the media – but we are working very closely with them testing a system whereby all the flight data which is received in the black box, in the flight data recorder, is also received continuously during the flight on the ground in our operations center. Once this has been proven and all the bugs have been cleared then Qatar Airways I hope will be the first airline to introduce this in all of our airplanes.

Similar to the new business class seat announcement details are scarce at this point but Al Baker has made it quite clear that he strongly supports aircraft tracking initiatives and in his role this year on the IATA Board of Governors he intends to push the topic forward as aggressively as possible. And he is leading by acting, not just talking.

EXTRA: A Look at Airbus’ A350 XWB Final Assembly Line

Gino Bertuccio, who flew the inaugural of Qatar’s Airbus A380 and was the first customer on the Etihad A380 residence will be onboard and reviewing the inaugural Qatar A350 flight in commercial service January 15.

 

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Contact the author at seth@millerworks.net, follow Seth on Twitter at @WandrMe

Contact the editor at benet.wilson@airways.com

The post Qatar Airways A350 XWB Introduced to the World appeared first on Airchive.

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