So how wide is that new Airbus?
If you’ve been reading all those full-page adverts over the last few weeks about the new Airbus A350, the answer to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, you probably have dreams of your own finally getting to sit in a passenger aircraft with enough room for your widening body. The A350 is billed as the XWB, or Xtra Wide Body. Airbus has been spreading ads all over the papers because it’s at least two years behind Boeing. The European plane maker had to completely redesign the A350, which won’t actually be flying until at least 2010 and possibly as late as 2012, while a newly resurgent Boeing intends to get the 787 off the runway in 2008 – in a position to snap up zillions of orders for what is believed to be the biggest market for jets over the next couple of decades – a 250-300-seat twin-engine wide body.
So how wide is that new, redesigned A350? Actually, just three inches wider than the 787. Is that enough to make a difference to airline customers? At last count, Airbus said it had commitments to sell 140 of them. Boeing says it already has 174 firm orders for the Dreamliner. The 787 is designed to accommodate 8 or 9 passengers per row, while the 777 can accommodate 9 or 10 passengers per row. Either way, there probably isn’t going to be any more room for you to juggle your lunch tray on either plane.