DR Smith Foto
Ethiopian Airlines (ET-AUC) Airbus A350-900XWB departing from Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport on a dynamic Saturday morning 2019 - Photo by Robson Smith
Ethiopian Airlines Airbus A350-900XWB departing from Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ) en route to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) on a dynamic Saturday morning 2019. Carrying some 300 passengers, Airbus' newest wide-body aircraft competes directly with Boeing's 777ER family of aircraft, and the A350-900 variant (pictured) is most comparable in size to the 777-200ER, the smallest 777. Statistically, at this point in time, the A350-900 has seen some 783 orders, with 298 deliveries, and of 176 A350-1000 orders, 33 have been delivered. Hence, 959 orders with 331 deliveries - so close to 1000! Moreover, only in July of 2017 did the aircraft reach its 100th delivery, indicative of rapid growth and capabilities. From Airbus, "the combination of these advantages [to the A350] result in 25 percent lower operating costs, fuel burn, and CO2 emissions when compared with previous generation aircraft - showing Airbus' commitment to protecting the environment while remaining at the cutting edge of travel". To this, the European manufacturer is referring to the incredible adaptive wing design, inspired by birds, the usage of over 70 percent advanced materials (53% carbon composites augmented by titanium and modern aluminium alloys), and the superbly effective and powerful Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines of the A350. These engines were designed exclusively to power this model, first flying on the A350 in June 2013 and a culmination of six generations of Rolls Royce turbofans, based upon 70 million hours of Trent (engine) family experience and dubbed the world's most efficient aeroengine - and for good reason. The set-up possess a multitude of internal fans, 22 to be exact, approaching three metres, nearly 10 feet, in diameter (larger than the fuselage of the Concord - in fact, each Trent XWB must be partially disassembled in order for transport as the structure simply cannot fit into the world's major air freighters, the Boeing 747F and 777F) and providing between 84 and 97 thousand pounds of thrust. The unit intakes up to a whopping 1.3 tons of air, the equivalent of all the air in a squash court, every second during take-off, a monumental figure. Also during take-off, the force is equal to nine london buses hanging off each blade, or 90 tons. However, the feats get better: the high-pressure turbine blades inside the engine rotate at 12,500rpm, and extraordinarily so, the tips of these blades reach twice the speed of sound (1200 mph, almost 2000kph). At takeoff, each of the sixty eight high pressure blades generates about 900 horsepower, equalling about one Formula-One race car on each blade, totalling 50,000 horsepower per unit. Finally, just for fun, the air leaving the rear nozzle of the engines travel only some 1000mph/1600kph. That's quite an extraordinary set of accomplishments for such a new engine. It is so reliable, in fact, that "only" after having accumulated 2.2 million flight hours did its first in-fight-shutdown occur during September 2018, a full five years since its inaugural flight - the epitome of engineering indeed. As far as we are concerned, the unsung heroes of aeronautics truly are the wing and engine engineers. A bright future exists for both the Airbus A350 family and the Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine, as well as Ethiopian Airlines, who, in June 2016, became Africa's first operator of the A350XWB. Enjoy the image!
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