Airbus A350-1000 Cleared For Increased Seating Capacity

The development of a brand-new emergency exit has allowed Airbus to increase its seating capacity on its A350-1000. The airframe manufacturer has secured 40 additional passenger seats. Airbus requested additional seating on the aircraft from the EASA with the development of new safety regulations.

The A350-1000 will now offer 480 seats at maximum capacity. Photo: Airbus

Airbus’ expansion request

The EASA has now approved Airbus’ request to install new emergency exits on its A350-1000 aircraft which will allow it increased seating capacity without compromising safety.

Back in June this year, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) founded an Equivalent Safety Finding to review a request to increase the maximum seating capacity on Airbus’ A350-1000. The EASA had previously found that the emergency exits were not sufficient to allow more passengers on board.

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In the Equivalent Safety Finding, the EASA said:

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“Notwithstanding the improvements introduced in the meantime in the “state of the art” Type A emergency exit design (e.g. escape slides performance, door opening time, etc.), EASA does still consider the maximum number of passenger seats (i.e. 110) allowed by CS 25.807(g) per pair of Type A emergency exits as appropriate.”

The current Type A emergency exits would have compromised the safety of passengers if more were allowed to board. So Airbus decided to create the Type A+ emergency exit to combat the issue.

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Airbus improved its emergency exits to facilitate addition passengers. Photo: Airbus

The pursuit of enhanced safety

The Type A+ emergency exits will now feature two slides per exit with enhanced lighting and a dedicated exit sign. The installation of these new exits also necessitates additional crew to ensure a swift evacuation. Airbus A350-1000 aircraft fitted with the Type A+ exit will require three, rather than two, cabin crew to man each emergency exit.

However, at the time of the Equivalent Safety Finding paper, the EASA was happy with the proposed changes. The authority stated:

“The design features included in the proposed Type A+ emergency exit definition provide for an increased evacuation performance compared to a design meeting the requirements for a Type A emergency exit.”

It thought that the increase in crew and better visibility of the exit would allow passengers to evacuate quicker. In June’s Equivalent Safety Finding paper, the EASA said that Airbus would undertake rigorous testing to ensure the increased performance of the exit. It continued to say that if it proved effective, the body would grant Airbus additional passenger seating.

The EASA was happy with Airbus Type A+ emergency exit testing. Photo: Airbus

That’s now been approved. The installation of these exits means that airlines using the A350-1000 can sit 120 passengers per emergency exit. That’s an increase of 10 passengers in comparison to the allowance with the Type A emergency exit. Overall, it brings the maximum seating capacity of the A350-1000 to 480. That’s if the aircraft is completely fitted with Type A+ exits.

A successful design

Evidently, the entire process and outcome of the A350-1000 exit design provides a great advantage to the manufacturer and its customers alike. Airbus has been able to make its aircraft more profitable for its customers as well as ensure they are safer than ever.

But the change will also pitch the manufacturer well against its competition. The development of a higher capacity aircraft means that it’s already a rival for Boeing’s 787-10. And with Boeing’s 777X somewhere on the horizon, the EASA’s approval has come at a good time! Airlines with pending A350-1000 orders, like brand-new Starlux Airlines, will be able to take advantage of the development.

Airbus has made a more profitable aircraft for its customers. Photo: Airbus

However, whilst increased maximum capacity is generally a good thing, the development of the Typ A+ exits will come with financial implications for airlines. That will be in the form of increased salaries for extra cabin crew who will conduct the safety procedures at the emergency exits.

Challenges for the ‘spacious’ cabin

But, what’s more, there could be a non-financial penalty for passengers. The luxurious aspect of A350-1000 travel might be compromised with additional passengers on board. On its aircraft page, Airbus states:

“…the A350-1000 seats between 350 and 410 passengers – who can expect a spacious and quiet cabin, wider seats and elegant ambient lighting that contributes to a beautiful interior while also minimising the effects of jetlag.”

But that might change. According to an EASA design outline, the seating will need to be 10-abreast. That will likely mean smaller seats not wider ones as Airbus suggests and less space in the cabin overall.

But the layout is good for airlines, there’s no doubting that. If they’re able to complement additional seats with sterling customer service, who will really notice the bumping shoulders with their encroaching neighbor?

What’s your reaction to Airbus’ increased maximum seating capacity? Let us know in the comments!

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Norman

I want to know if they re-did the airframe stress testing !!!

Robert

Airlines are squeezing more sardines into a longer can in order to increase revenue and profit margins, maybe ok on short routes but definitely not on long ones if seated in economy with smaller width seats and less pitch. So far as the new emergency exits with 2 slides each, doesn’t make the plane more safe, just means safety is not compromised.

Gerry S

Great news for regionals such as JAL which use large capacity a/c on their regional routes. China also. Not so good on long hauls. 12 hours in 10 abreast seating is not my idea of fun.

Remy

I wasn’t to happy when I read this. The Airbus A350-1000 is meant for long distance flights and a seat pitch below 32 inch is unacceptable for long flights in my opinion.

fernando B menendez

oh my good ,next will be straps so passengers really get the feeling they are in a bus , an airbus

Gerry S

Recently read here that a seat manufacturer actually has created a “stand-up seat”. The thing was ridiculous

Ronnie

So Ryanair can have a new cabin class and price, at the back of the plane I thought. Terrifying.

Nate Dogg

Definitely devised for high density short haul versions aimed at Japan and China.

Moaz Abid

The same story with a boeing 777, squashed like sardines

Matt

The A350 is actually worse in a ten across configuration than the 777. The ten across 777 is already miserable. This is atrocious. Hopefully this is just a fringe option for LCCs like AirAsia.

Jack

The Airbus A350 is designed to have a 9 abrest seating config by default design, like the A330 is designed for 8 abrest. I guess it’s just up to the passenger to have sense about which airline they book with and the overall seating configurations of their aircraft. The A350, like the A330 has 16.5 inch wide in a 10 or 9 abrest which Air Cariiabes use unfortunately, but hopefully we’ll only see LCC’s use that. Airlines are only minutely allowed to have these seat widths because the average persons shoulder width is around 16 inches for men and 14… Read more »

Transworld

And what real world testing have they done with a plane full of representative passengers (old, fake babies, infirm etc) and a known percentage assigned to grab their bags like they do in the real world?

And then a factor for them ready for it.

TonytTDK

Airlines are NOT required to do ‘real world’ testing of evacuation procedures,
they’re required to follow a very specific set of instructins & perameters.!

If you’re advocating any kind of change to those perameters, which are set jointly by the Worlds regulatory bodies, then self-evidently, EVERY aircraft type currently flying, will need to be retested & assessed for it’s emergency escape procedures & capability.?

Bryce

Probably the same testing that Boeing did with a 3-4-3 777.

Adrian peters

Oh babies, oh no, old and infirm, oh no, !!!!!! IDEA HERE have them seated to be last off the plane, problem solved, and babies should be in cargo below deck anyway, thanks.

Matt

Air Asia already ordered their A350s with a ten across seating configuration. It requires seats less than 17″ wide. Hopefully no other airlines follow this trend.

Rosul S

AirAsiaX didn’t take the option to order A359 or A35K, choosing A339 instead.

Avi

Boeing 777 has ten seats and it is already narrower than usual, if Airbus 350 which is a narrower body than Boeing 777 will also have ten seats in a row it will already be really excessive and really inhumane!

TheDude

This response (along with others) is mind boggling to me. To say the 777 “will also have 10 seats in a row” is false. Sure it has the room for 10 across but the airline customer dictates the number of seats. The 777 could have 4 in a row if the customer wanted it (same with the 350). Airlines want cattle cars so the manufactures obliged. Again the amount of seats, IFE, pitch, etc is ALL customer driven.

Farhan Nazar

I have suspicion that project sunrise have something to do with this……

yepno

Your suspicions are wrong, the Sunrise flights (which in themselves are just free marketing for QF, they cant even replace their current capital needs, let alone buying another niche aircraft type) are weight limited due to fuel load. So adding more seats is not really needed, if anything they need less than a standard configured 4 class A350

JM1951

Airlines will continue to pursue profit via capacity if we, the passengers, continue to pursue the lowest cost flight. With Premium & Business significantly more expensive than Economy, surely many economy passengers be prepared to pay 10% more for the seat to get 10% more space? I, for one, would prefer a slightly more expensive seat for a much better journey experience.

We’ve only got ourselves to blame.

William

I doubt many airlines will adopt the 10 abreast seating. It drops the standard 18 inch Airbus seat from 18″ (which is more generous than Boeing) to 16.5 inches with likely loss of some armrest space. Some Asian carriers will be interested and so will some carriers specialising in leisure flights. It will be mainly on short flights. Qantas will never have this. Airbus is trying to increase the 10 abreast seating to 17 inches. I imagine they will do work on the sidewall such as reducing sound insulation and thinning the ribs at shoulder height. Boeing on the 777X… Read more »

Robert

Spot on! Yes, we only have ourselves to blame. @JJack “it is up to the passengers to have sense which airline to book” – well, reality shows most passengers lack that sense and only choose the wallet as their criterion.

Mark Thompson

EASA cannot be trusted to certify Airbus aircraft. Both are partially owned by the French and German governments.

Bryce

The FAA cannot be trusted to certify Boeing aircraft. Boeing is the biggest company in the Dow Jones, is the USA’s biggest exporter, and is of crucial importance to the US economy and armed forces.

(Update: replace all occurrences of “is” by “was”).

TonytTDK

Silly thing to say.!

The FAA have been proved to be effectively ‘in Boeing’s pocket’ & to have be incapable of ‘proper’ oversight of Boeing over the last 5-6 years.
Yet there is no suggestion that the FAA is a failed organisation which should be disbanded.

If the FAA can still be trusted to oversee Boeing, I don’t see any reason why Airbus should beconsidered differently.?

Ian Hardee

“EASA cannot be trusted to certify Airbus aircraft. Both are partially owned by the French and German governments” It is certainly true that both entities are partially “owned” by the French and German governments. Well, let me clarify that, since “owned” isn’t really the right word for EASA as an inter-governmental organisation with 32 members, but hey – yes, I accept that the French and German governments do have some votes. In fact, since I believe that the voting members are all the EU states, currently 28, they “control” a massive (ahem!) 7.14% of EASA. But safety decisions aren’t taken… Read more »

Rodolfo Canales

10 abreast on an A350? Where did the pledge for a minimum 18″ width seat go?

D Ramsay

I always check the airlines seating before I book a flight. Short haul not a big issue but on long haul I really dislike being squashed in. A lot of people say an inch does not matter but I find 1 on width and 2 on pitch makes a huge difference on walking off unbroken and damaged at the other end… I pay more for comfort and used to fly KLM, 15 years back, transatlantic as the cloggies being the tallest people on the planet needed room just to fit in suiting me at 5′ 9″. I suspect this change… Read more »

James Mahon

I could see it being a success for budget Asian airlines like Air Asia-X (and Cebu Pacific Air) which already pack people into A330-900neo’s, and have plans to go to 460 seats in all economy modes (!).
(check Wiki A330Neo)
Not sure about trying to get 10 Europeans or Americans into a row, however.
You never know, they might stick 10 rows down the back at 10 abreast as a sort of steerage class for students, etc.

Gerard McNulty

Long distance air travel is all about leg room and enough space between your ribs and your neabours elbow. With 10 seats on each side of a middle ille I wont be fast to book a seat unless I get an ille or window and climbing over 5 bodies from the window seat is not apealling either. I wonder if the picket price will go down giving the improved economics.

Chengyou Jiang

Now it’s time for Qantas to choose A350-1000 ULR !!!