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Introduction of Airbus A350-1000
In this article, we will try to find out if the Airbus A350 is a good fit for PIA in wake of replacing the aging fleet of Boeing 777s.
Airbus A350-XWB (Extra Wide Body) was a new project of the Airbus company. It was primarily aimed at competing with the Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The Dreamliner became a tough competitor for the Airbus A330 at the time of its entry into the market. Airbus initially planned to continue with a lighter derivative of A330. However, the plan changed. A completely new project was initiated with the name of Extra Wide Body (XWB). Qatar Airways was the launcher of the Airbus A350-XWB aircraft in the commercial market.
Also Read: Airbus Commercial Aircraft Division
Variants of Airbus A350
Basically, Airbus A350 has two variants. They are known as the -900 and -1000 variants respectively. However, the -900 variant has also been customized for commercial, corporate, and freighter purposes. The freighter version has not been materialized to date. The -1000 variant is purely commercial based and serves different airlines around the world.
Also Read: Qatar Airways Airbus A350-1000
The Airbus A350-1000 is a stretched version of the original A350-900 variant. It is a bit longer than its predecessor. Therefore, it accommodates more seats. The aircraft formally came into commercial service in February 2018. Yet again, Qatar Airways was the first launcher of the A350-1000 variant.
The A350-1000 is also the largest variant of the A350 family. Due to its larger fuselage length, it can accommodate 350-410 passengers. Due to its larger size, the aircraft have larger wings as compared to the -900 variant. The wingtips are typically blended to improve aerodynamic performance. The moving surfaces on the wings also help the aircraft to remain stable at low speeds. Moreover, 53% of its fuselage is reinforced carbon composites that make it lighter than the other aircraft of similar categories. Not only this, but the weight factor also improves the lift factor and improves fuel efficiency.
Airbus A350-1000 is fitted with the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. Its thrust has been augmented to 97,000 lbf; much stronger to improve its range. According to Airbus, the aircraft burns less than 25% fuel as compared to the other aircraft of a similar category. Moreover, its engines are not only powerful but they are also very fuel-efficient which contributes to its longer range. The aircraft can fly up to 16,100 km in its maximum range. but this number varies with the load on board. Higher load reduces the range.
Suitability of Airbus A350-1000 for PIA
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has a relatively older fleet comprising of the Boeing 777, 777-200ER, and 777-300ER; Airbus A320 and ATR-72. The airline utilizes its Boeing fleet for the regional and long-haul network routes. Although the airline has suffered major losses in the past many years due to the government’s constant funding, the airline has not filed for bankruptcy anytime since its inception. It is because of the government funding that it has been able to lease A320 aircraft recently for its fleet.
So what’s next on the table?
In the longer run, PIA will require to replace its present aging wide-body Boeing 777 fleet. The two options could be Boeing 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus A350-XWB airplanes. Aircraft procurement is a long and hectic process. The decision cannot be based on the basic specifications but these specifications must be in synergy with the real market requirement including the networks. Cost is one major factor in the procurement process but most importantly, the post-purchase benefits are more important in terms of revenues.
Making an Understanding
In order to make a better understanding, it is important to make comparisons among the different aircraft of a similar category. The Airbus A350-1000 is a strong competitor for the Boeing 777 earlier versions including the Long Range (LR) and Extended Range (ER). Interestingly, it has also outperformed the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in terms of capacity and range.
Also read:- Airbus and its Global Partnerships
First, we will do the comparison for the A350-1000 with the existing Boeing 777-200ER and 300ER aircraft held with PIA. We will also do another comparison for A350-1000 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner as well. Both the comparisons will help us understand to make the most viable choice for the future fleet of Pakistan International Airlines.
Airbus A350-1000 vs Boeing 777-200ER
|Parameters||Airbus A350-1000||Boeing 777-200ER|
|Total Thrust||194,200 lbf||187,400 lbf|
|Range||14800 km||14316 km|
|MTOW||679000 lbs||656000 lbs|
Before doing the comparisons, it is important to know that the Boeing 777-200ER came into the business in 1996. Similarly, the Boeing 777-300 ER came into the business in 2003 whereas, Boeing 787 Dreamliner came in 2013. The A350-1000 came into the market in 2018. It is, therefore, the latest technology with one of the best cabin interiors and in-flight entertainment facilities. Now, with the availability of an airborne WIFI, its popularity has further improved among the airlines and the passengers. The first comparison shows that Airbus A350-1000 is better in range with reference to the capacity.
|Total Thrust||194,200 lbf||230,600 lbf|
|Range||14800 km||14600 km|
|MTOW||679000 lbs||775000 lbs|
Boeing 777-300ER has turned out to be a strong competitor for A350-1000. It is highly compatible with the A350 however, we must bear in mind that the A350-1000 has far better fuel efficiency and cost-saving than the Boeing 777-300ER.
|Total Thrust||194,200 lbf||142000 lbf|
|Range||14800 km||15,394 km|
|MTOW||679000 lbs||557,000 lbs|
I have picked Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner since it is the highest-selling airplane from the 787 families. Interestingly, the A350-1000 outpasses the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in all parameters.
By looking at the number comparison of A350-1000 among other Boeing variants, we can safely say that the Airbus A350-1000 is the best choice for Pakistan International Airlines as a wide-body aircraft for long-haul flights. Moreover, the aircraft fulfills the capacity requirement of the airline and it will also save the operational cost in terms of fuel-saving. In addition, Pakistan being a strong supporter of environmental sustenance will also be able to contribute towards the global cause with lesser carbon footprints, if the national carrier decides to go for the Airbus A350-1000. The final decision, however, rests with the top management.
Written by guest writer, Faisal Bashir