A350 Carries Passengers

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Airbus's A350 XWB carried passengers for the first time earlier this month, taking two loads of Airbus employees and "cabin experts" from Toulouse back to Toulouse on shakedown flights. Those on the flights to nowhere were urged to press all the buttons and generally push and pull anything a regular airline passenger might encounter on a line flight. They had plenty of time to play. The first flight on June 2 was a seven-hour affair while those on the second flight left their impressions on a 12-hour out-and-back. "During the flights these early passengers were tasked to try out and test the A350 XWB cabin systems, including air conditioning, lighting, acoustics, in-flight entertainment (IFE), galleys, electrics, toilets and water waste systems," Airbus said in a news release.

Keeping order and making sure everyone was fed and watered were cabin crews from Lufthansa and Air France. They gave the galleys and other systems a good workout as they mimicked standard service on their flights for the volunteer passengers. It's not clear how the seat assignments were determined for the aircraft, which had a comparatively generous 252-seat business/economy split. The aircraft will hold as many as 369 passengers. The aircraft is a direct competitor to the Boeing 787 and will be certified by the end of the year. Airbus has 812 firm orders for the long-range two-aisle jet.