A350-900’s performance boost

Iberia’s initial A350-900 EC-MXV (msn 219), photographed prior to delivery while still with Airbus and wearing its F-WZNP test registration, is the first A350 with a new performance improvement package. A Doumenjou/Airbus

Airbus has introduced a performance improvement package (PIP) for its A350-900 resulting in a higher maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and a fuel burn saving. The PIP was delivered with Iberia’s first A350-900, ECMXV (msn 219), handed over to the Spanish flag carrier in June.

Manufacturers typically bring out PIPs to eke out further performance from new aircraft after a period of initial service. Airbus told AIR International it has extended the A350-900’s winglets by 500mm (19in) and introduced a wing twist. A twist refers to the position of the wing tip relative to the wing root whilst in the manufacturing jig. Slightly twisting the wing by a few degrees is designed to optimise the wing’s profile to improve aerodynamic performance.

The A350-900 PIP also introduces a 280,000kg (617,295lb) MTOW, up from the baseline 275,000kg (606,272lb) MTOW. Airbus develops different weight variants (WV) for its aircraft families and the Aircraft Characteristics for Airport Planning document for the A350- 900, updated in June, now lists 17 different WVs, of which the 280,000kg capability is currently the highest MTOW available.

Airbus told AIR International the PIP delivered with Iberia’s first A350- 900 will become the standard for the type, and that the combination of the improved MTOW and aerodynamic improvement will reduce fuel burn by 1% while bringing a range increase of up to 400 nautical miles (740km) in a typical three-class configuration. Airbus had delivered 182 A350- 900s by early July. Iberia is the 18th operator and has ordered 16 A350- 900s. Its first aircraft is configured with 348 seats (31 fully lie-flat bed business, 24 premium economy, 293 economy) and was line-fit with high-speed internet connectivity.

According to plans revealed during parent company IAG’s Capital Markets Day last year, Iberia will receive a second A350-900 this year. The remaining deliveries will follow as the airline works towards its target of renewing 91% of its widebody aircraft by 2022, with the A350s replacing A340s and older A330s. Mark Broadbent