Wednesday, 20 June 2018

HONG KONG: Cathay Pacific Acquires First A350-1000 And Orders Twenty More

Cathay Pacific has taken delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000, making it the variant's second operator after Qatar Airways, which received its initial example in February.

The Hong Kong carrier has ordered 20 A350-1000s and already operates 22 A350-900s, Airbus says. The airline has another six -900s on order and holds four options.

Airbus says Cathay Pacific will from September deploy the A350-1000 on nonstop services to Washington DC, which the airframer describes as the longest flight performed by any airline out of Hong Kong. Flight time will be approximately 17h.

Cathay Pacific chief customer and commercial officer Paul Loo states that the A350-900's introduction to the airline in 2016"enabled us to expand our long-haul network at a near unprecedented rate.

He adds that the larger -1000 variant has an incredible range, is remarkably fuel efficient and quiet, provides customers with an unsurpassed cabin environment, and has extremely attractive operating economics.

The A350 is exclusively powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.

The first of 20 A350-1000s for Cathay Pacific has completed its initial test flight from Airbus's Toulouse plant.

Deliveries of the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-powered aircraft to the Hong Kong carrier are scheduled to begin in June. It will become the second operator after launch customer Qatar Airways to receive Airbus's biggest twinjet.

The new twinjets will be operated alongside Cathay's existing fleet of smaller A350-900s, 22 of which are currently in service with six more on order, according to Flight Fleets Analyzer.

Cathay will deploy the A350-1000 on its new route to Washington DC from September. The airline says that at 8,153 miles (7,095nm/13,126km), the new service to Dulles will become the longest in its network.

Airbus's third test-flight A330-900, carrying the colours of launch operator TAP Portugal, has landed in Lisbon after commencing the initial stage of route-proving flights.

For the first state of route-proving, MSN1819 is set to fly on to Brazil, visiting cities including Recife, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Miami.

The Rolls-Royce Trent 7000-powered aircraft took off on 19 June from Toulouse's runway 32R – using a full-thrust departure, rather than a flex setting, on the request of flight-test engineers – for a 1h 30min flight to the Portuguese capital.

MSN1819 had pushed back with just under 20t of fuel, and a weight of 164t, with a projected landing weight of 156.8t. The crew confirmed, after touchdown on Lisbon's on runway 21, that the twinjet had burned 8t of fuel.

The 298-seat aircraft – featuring the airframer's three-class revamped Airspace cabin interior, fitted with Recaro seating – was transporting board members from the carrier and the airframer, as well as government figures and media representatives.

Route-proving will subsequently take the aircraft to Asia, with stops in Kuala Lumpur and other regional hubs, before it returns to Europe via Mauritius. It also fly to Delhi before heading west again, operating through Reykjavik, Chicago and Atlanta.

The exercise is intended to demonstrate the A330neo's readiness for airline service.

As part of the testing the aircraft will undertake extended twin-engined operations flights, approaches to alternate airports, and tests with ground-handling systems.

Airbus head of A330 marketing Crawford Hamilton, speaking during the event, said the route-proving effort would involve about 150h of flights, spanning 18 days, and taking in 16 cities. The exercise is set to run to 7 July.

Hamilton says the A330neo test-flight campaign, which involves three aircraft including MSN1819, is around 80% complete. The fleet has logged around 1,000h in 267 flights.

Performance is in line with predictions, he adds.

Certification is still on track for summer this year, with subsequent entry into service with TAP.

Tourism Observer

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