Airbus could be set for a major design U-turn in a key area of the A350 XWB's cabin configuration after a backlash from customers over its plans for a novel new galley design for the twinjet.
The so-called 'D-shape' rear galley was unveiled by Airbus to current and potential customers at the last A350 programme progress review in June. The airframer proposed the design over the conventional 'C-shape' layout on the grounds that it made a more efficient use of space and freed up room in the cabin for additional passenger seating.
Francois Caudron, vice-president A350 customer and business development, told Flight International at the time of the galley's unveiling that the new design provided more comfort and space for the cabin crew and enabled the trolley count to be increased from 17 to 21 units.
He added that the design - which was to be subject to an "operational validation using a mock-up with customers" - would reduce turnaround time as it enabled separate flow for full and empty trolleys during catering, and freed space in the main cabin for an additional triple-seat row.
Airbus says the 'D-shape' layout also offers additional lateral work surfaces, above those available from a traditional galley design.
© Tim Brown/Flight
However, industry sources say that the new design was unveiled without operator input and with little consideration given to operational issues, and many customers have rejected it as being impractical in a real service environment. Airbus has attempted to convince customers of the configuration's merits through a redesign but it still faces significant opposition, say sources.
The decision to adopt the design was "a bad idea", sources adds, as it poses serious operational repercussions, including a high risk of damage during galley-cart loading at turnaround, and a cramped working environment for cabin crew during meal service.
Airbus says that detailed operability analysis of the design and discussion with A350 customers has "revealed that areas of improvement that are necessary" and that it is "incorporating this feedback both into the 'D-shape' galley and, in parallel, a more conventional arrangement".