Airbus shows off new A350 at Singapore airshow
An Airbus A350-900 flies during an aerial display for a media preview ahead of the upcoming Singapore Air Show on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014. (AP / Joseph Nair)
Published Monday, February 10, 2014 8:29AM EST
SINGAPORE -- Airbus showed off its new wide-body A350 on Monday ahead of Asia's biggest airshow, sending a signal the jet's delivery schedule is on track and stepping up its battle with Boeing for the lucrative long-haul market.
Reporters toured an A350 fitted with monitoring equipment instead of a passenger cabin. At the Singapore show, which starts Tuesday, it will go on public display for the first time since making its debut flight in June last year. It will also join the show's flying display.
A little more than half of the jet is made of carbon fiber to make it lighter and more fuel efficient, a key consideration for airlines contending with volatile fuel prices.
The A350, which can carry from 200 to 400 passengers and has a list price starting at $254.3 million, will allow Airbus to step up competition in the long-haul market dominated by Boeing's 777 and 787 jets.
Airbus has received 814 orders so far for the A350, with 30 per cent coming from Asian airlines such as Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways and Singapore Airlines. The region is a crucial market for plane makers because its economic growth is driving rapid expansion of jet fleets.
Airbus hopes to woo buyers by showing off the plane to trade visitors on the show's first two days.
The airplane's appearance in Singapore is a strong sign it's on schedule to start deliveries to airline customers in the second half of the year.
Airbus engineers say they've been testing the airplane under extreme conditions and it's now entering the certification process.
This year they flew the plane to La Paz, Bolivia for high altitude testing, to Iqualit in northern Canada to check its performance in cold weather, and to a Florida facility to test it under even more extreme temperatures.