XWB - The Babe..

Aircraft being referred to in the feminine is nothing new. But i really dont think there has been one worthy of the title 'babe'. Until now, that is. Until the A350 XWB. I've heard of planes being called elegant ladies, old ladies, even pin-up sorta names, but i tell you this one is a babe. Put it in a swanky farmhouse party and it'll be right at home. Check out those windscreens out front, i doubt ray-ban will match them anytime soon. And those wings.. ooohh.. well yeah i agree its kinda wrong to be turned on by a plane, but this is the best I've seen so far. Its probably also the first time airbus has given some consideration to the looks of its plane.
They have long held the view that air doesnt yield to style, but with this one it apparently does, and how! The plane promises 30% more fuel efficiency than the competition (read : the 787) and better aerodynamics and 60% construction is from new materials. And its rumored that the xwb-1000 could even force seattle to run for cover with a new 777 variant. I only wish they could sort things out fast at Toulouse, Hamburg, Hawarden and all the other places to come out with this baby as soon as possible. I cant wait to see it in the sky, and this coming from a guy who nearly blew all his savings plannin on seeing the 380 on its first visit to India.

I wonder if Honeywell is gonna do the cockpit for this one :D?

There have been quite some orders so far, including three of my favourite airlines Aeroflot, Kingfisher and Finnair. I was kinda holding the opinion that the new Aeroflot livery looked good only on the soviet beauties, the Tu-154, Il-86/96 etc (It woulda looked great on a Tu-144 as well) but this one's shattered that opinion. Of all the airlines that have ordered this plane so far, the russian livery suits it the best.

Kingfisher has orders for five of these. Someone should give that chap an award or something, for bringing some cool stuff to Indian skies. The KF livery looks better on the 350 than it does on the 380. Anything as big and red as the KF 380 should be enough for a headache :) But I'm guessing that their A345s should give Virgin's livery a run for its money.
And Finnair, as usual is as cool as ever. The white fuselage, blue tail and the 'F' logo all make the aircraft look tailor-made for them. I'd always liked their colours on their MD-11s, and also the 'Official Airline of Santa Claus' stickers that they used to have at one point. This plane should do just as nicely.
The only other livery I'd like to see on this is the bare metal look of American, but i have a feeling thats gonna be very very unlikely.
One of the important things to be noted about this plane is composites. The website promises 60% new materials in construction, but also says that it is going to use repairable composites. One of the major concerns about composites in aviation is their tolerance to damage. They do not get damaged gradually like metal, they tolerate stress to a large extend and then snap. So smaller damages caused by bad landings or handling accidents could potentially warrant replacement of the entire part, unlike metal where a great degree of serviceability exists. I kinda think that this is a potshot at the 787, which is the first major commercial airliner to use composites extensively. How far Airbus would be able to deliver on their promises remains to be seen, but for an airbus supporter like me, this could be the future of long range aviation.

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