In 2018 Iberia became the first airline to fly a A350 with a new production standard (NPS), and the airline has done it again with the debut of its A350 with the latest NPS that includes cabin and operational efficiency improvements.
Work by Airbus engineers in developing the 2022 A350 NPS included carving out an extra 4in of cabin width, bringing it to 225in. The sidewalls have been re-sculpted to create an extra 2in on each side of the cabin, along the cylindrical constant section, with uprated insulation in the new sidewalls to ensure that acoustic and thermal insulation properties remain unchanged. The A350’s sidewalls also remain near-vertical so that the extra width is available at hip, shoulder and head level.
Two extra inches can make a big difference – enough to enable 10-abreast economy cabins with 17in-wide seats in a 3-4-3 configuration, or to provide greater passenger space in a nine-abreast layout.
Iberia has taken the latter option, increasing the width of each economy-class seat by 1cm. Further comfort enhancements include the addition of articulated headrests that can be folded and adjusted on both sides – as found in Iberia’s Premium Economy cabin. Other seat features include a personal electronic device (PED) holder below the in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen, which can be used for viewing and charging devices.
As well as the enhanced privacy wings on the headrests in premium economy, which can also be folded and adjusted on both sides, those seats have been updated with a remote control for the IFE display, with a touch navigation panel.
The changes are more obvious in business class, with doors added to each seat to create a more private suite-like personal space. All seats in the business cabin have direct aisle access and in the central seats – known as honeymoon seats – have an automatic central divider to enable a shared space. The seats also have articulated leather headrests, more storage for personal items, and convert into fully flat beds that are 5cm longer than Iberia’s current business-class seat. The number of each seat is projected on the aisle floor, to make finding the right seat easier in the dark.
Bigger and better IFE
Iberia’s A350 NPS also brings in IFE Next, a new-generation inflight entertainment system that the airline developed in collaboration with Panasonic. IFE Next incorporates a more modern, interactive and intuitive design, with 4K displays that protects users’ eyes and incorporate night lighting to avoid disturbing those in neighbouring seats.
The displays are also larger in premium economy (growing from 12in to 13in) and in economy class (growing from 10in to 12in). The systems also allow users in all cabins to connect their personal wireless headphones via Bluetooth, for greater freedom of movement and comfort.
The bigger picture
As well as passenger experience enhancements, the new-generation A350 is equipped with new technologies for greater flying efficiency, and built with the most sustainable materials on the market. Indeed the airline says the 2022 NPS A350 is one ton lighter than the standard A350, achieved through structural improvements and lighter equipment.
Iberia’s new A350 also features new flap positions that allow the pilot to select the optimal configuration for each takeoff. The retraction of the landing gear is faster, which allows the airplane to reach a configuration that presents less aerodynamic resistance in less time, saving fuel.