A350 XWB debuts in Ethiopia ahead of first African operations


The Airbus A350 XWB (extra-wide body), made its East African debut, arriving at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport today as part of its Middle East-Ethiopia demonstration flight tour.

Its visit is a precursor to the delivery of Ethiopian Airlines’ first A350-900 aircraft in the second quarter of next year. As part of its ongoing fleet expansion and modernisation strategy, Ethiopian Airlines has ordered a fleet of 12 of the all-new mid-size long range A350-900s. They mark the carrier’s first ever Airbus purchase.

The visiting aircraft, MSN002, wearing its “carbon” livery, is one of five A350 XWBs flight test aircraft built and was used by Airbus to perform flight test and development trials that took place ahead of its type certification in 2014. This particular test aircraft has a representative cabin configured with 252 seats in a typical business and economy class layout.

The visit will also provide an early opportunity for personnel from Ethiopian Airlines, Bole International Airport and Ethiopia’s air navigation service provider to gain first-hand experience working with the new widebody jetliner, Airbus said in a statement. Airbus, together with its Ethiopian customer and partners have collaborated in planning and providing the logistical and operational support for the aircraft’s first visit.

The A350 XWB will be on static display and open to invited visitors on 11th and 12th November in the morning. It will depart in the early afternoon for Toulouse, France on the final leg of its tour which has also seen the aircraft displayed in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and at the biennial Dubai Airshow.

The A350’s aerodynamic design, carbon fibre fuselage and wings, plus new fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines translate into a 25 per cent reduction in fuel burn and emissions, and significantly lower maintenance costs compared to older airliners. With a range capability up to 8,700 nautical miles (16,112km), the A350 XWB can comfortably fly non-stop from Addis Ababa to destinations in Europe, US and Asia.

At the end of October, Airbus had recorded a total of 787 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 41 customers worldwide.