New Airbus A350 lands in Sydney on test flight

Airbus's newest aircraft, the A350 XWB, landed in Sydney for the first time on Tuesday morning after flying in from Johannesburg, South Africa.

The aircraft is one of five test versions of the model that will be delivered to its first commercial customer, Qatar Airways, by the end of the year.

After being shown to media and industry guests on Tuesday morning, it will depart for Auckland with VIP passengers at 2pm. The test cabin has 43 business class seats and 223 in economy class.

World tour: The A350 XWB in Sydney.
World tour: The A350 XWB in Sydney. Photo: Louise Kennerley

The trip to Sydney is part of a final series of trials required for the aircraft to receive regulatory certification, which is expected by the end of September. The A350's world tour began on July 24 and involves a series of tests on four different trips. Perth will also be among the cities receiving a visit as part of the tour.

The A350 features a fuselage containing more than 50 per cent composite materials, meaning it is a lighter, more fuel efficient aircraft than previous generation models. It is a competitor to Boeing's 787 family.

Sydney Airport chief executive Kerrie Mather noted the twin engine plane has a range of up to 8500 nautical miles, which would allow non-stop services from Sydney to many more US cities and virtually all of South America.

"The A350 borrows many systems from the A380 which has been highly popular with travellers from all around the world," she said. "Sydney Airport hosted the world's first commercial service of the A380 in 2007. Since then, we've continued to welcome many new generation aircraft including the A350 today."

Neither Qantas Airways nor Virgin Australia Holdings has placed an order for the A350 to date, but Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines are among the carriers that have done so.

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