Airbus Innovation Days: A350 Media Test Flight Review

The 150 members of the media received an hour-long ride on A350-900 MSN002 (the “carbon fiber” liveried test plane in the Airbus fleet), a rare event.

Media at the Airbus Innovation Days flew on this, MSN002, for a 60 minute flight.

Media at the Airbus Innovation Days flew on this, MSN002, for a 60 minute flight.

Entry into the airplane gave a clean, spacious impression, though the Boeing 787 Sky Interior is more visually impressive. The A350, like the 787, has mood lighting.

A350 Business Class; seats by Sogerma.

A350 Business Class; seats by Sogerma.

What impressed us most, however, was how quiet the A350 is, from engine start-up to taxi to take off to cruise. Several reporters who have been on the Airbus A380—renowned for its quiet cabin—remarked that the A350 is quieter. As we stood at row 1 in the business class, the wind noise was more noticeable than the engines. The A350 is the quietest airplane we’ve been on, and we’ve been flying since 1964.

A350 Coach Cabin, seats and galleys by B/E Aerospace.

A350 Coach Cabin, seats and galleys by B/E Aerospace.

In this example, the French firm Sogerma supplied the business class seating. B/E Aerospace supplied the galleys and the coach seating, which, of course, had 18-inch wide, nine abreast configuration. Huge overhead bins supply plenty of luggage space.

The A350 is equipped with what has become standard on Airbus wide-bodies, a camera mounted in the tail, which was turned on at the gate and throughout the flight.

The A350 still has what we call the “Airbus whine” when flaps are extended or retracted.

With 200 media and Airbus staff on board and only 30t of fuel, the aircraft had a short runway run, a sharp climbout and quick ascent to our 31,000 ft cruising altitude. During the flight, a French Air Force Rafael fighter came along side to fly formation, an event that naturally caught the attention of the media more than passing over the scenic Pyrenees Mountains in Southern France.


22 Comments on “Airbus Innovation Days: A350 Media Test Flight Review

    • You’d think people would know the difference between the Rafale (aircraft) and Rafael (missile) by now. It happens so many times it can’t be a typo.

  1. True, Rafale. Rafael is the angel … that would be if you fly with the pope on board…

  2. How was the Wine? Because after all this is the most important item that the average passengers will notice.

    • Well, wasn’t a drink (wine); it’s a whining noise. The Boeing airplanes are much quieter when the flaps actuate.

      • That is a design feature so the pilot can actually hear that the flaps do work 😉

        Maybe the Boeing actuators make the same noise but you just can’t hear them.

        • Quieting that whine is just a matter of priorities. You have to isolate the actuator from the aircraft structure with rubber isolators designed to dampen those frequencies. That increases weight and cost. If it bugged enough people, Airbus would probably isolate it. But if no one complains, it is an unneeded investment.

        • You mean with all that ambiance noise of the aircraft?.. 😉

          Very cool Scott that you have been able to fly this plane!

  3. Quieter than a 787 then?

    Flight global says the French Air Force l run intercepts (on request).

    One of those things that give me the heeby jeebies, an awful lot of aviation accidents have occurred during formation flying and some close ones on intercept.

    I had that happen back in the 70s South of San Jose. Looking at my map and felt a bump, looked up, black steak of smoke 50 feet below me and then out front going straight up (never saw it, suspect an A7. Not a good thing to do.

  4. Just saw an Aviation week video of the take off of this flight -it is amazingly quiet ; possibly it is quieter than 787 , which is a big technical achievement. I have been on a 787 a few times and it was pretty quiet as well.

  5. Great…more “The 777 is the noisiest aircraft of all time” from some folks.

    It was quiet in the A350, although, watching the Aviation Week video, I was curious as to why anyone was clapping on takeoff. I heard that and was like “What? Is it a miracle the plane took off?!?” I mean, seriously, it was a takeoff, not a pilot who did a barrel roll and your drink didn’t spill, or a smooth landing in rough turbulence.

  6. Recent flights undertaken in a new VA A330 proved as quiet if not quieter than an equally new BA B787 also on my recent return from Australasia on a A380 I was again exposed to its superior cabin & able to engage in conversation at normal talking levels & arrive reasonably refreshed.

    Airbus essentially has superior sound suppression across it’s range, strange as if my memory serves me right Boeing were at one point saying the A380 cabin was too quiet.

    • Emirates staff have been complaining widely that when beeing in the A380 crew rests you hear the toilets and people walking the floor. So its hard to get to sleep and be well-rested. They now have installed audio devices creating some background noise to override those passengerd-induced noise.

      Don’t know if you’d have the same experience in a passenger seat … maybe when you are seated next to the loo. But then again, since most people in cattle class can’t sleep anyway, it probably doesn’t matter much.

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