Why new wing is key - A350 XWB

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The cornerstone of the A350 XWB family is an all-new, carbonfibre wing that will be common to all three variants. With an area of 442m2 (4,790ft2), it is the largest wing to have ever been produced for a single-passenger-deck widebody.

The wingspan of 64m (210ft) is 3m greater than those of the A330/A340 and the original A350, and puts it in International Civil Aviation Organisation category E. The greater span, combined with the deeper chord, increases the area by 20% over its Airbus predecessors. The biggest twinjet wing now in production belongs to the Boeing 777-200LR/300ER, which has 0.7m greater span than the A350's wing, but slightly less area.

The new wing will have a 3° increase in sweep over the A330/A340's wing, to 35°, helping to increase cruise speed to match the A380's Mach 0.85. Airbus has released little information about the wing's high lift devices, saying only that they will be "advanced" and will incorporate the A380-style droop-nose leading-edge device inboard of the engines.

Airbus is building its first carbonfibre wing for the A400M military airlifter, and this experience will be incorporated into the A350. Executive vice-president Tom Williams says that the A350 wing will have carbonfibre wingskins and stringers, but the material for the ribs is still to be finalised.

Airbus's latest data for the A350 XWB reveals that the aircraft's specification and performance has altered slightly since the unveiling at Farnborough in July.

Although the three models have the same seat count, the largest model, the -1000, has gained a 5t increase in maximum take-off weight (MTOW) to 295t. Range for this model has also dropped slightly from 15,730km (8,500nm) to 15,360km.

The MTOWs of the other two models remains the same, although the A350-900's range has also reduced, from 15,730km to 15,540km.