The fifth flight-test Airbus A350-900 took off from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport on the morning of July 24 for the final stage of tests for A350-900 type certification.
Airbus A350-900 MSN5 is operating a series of route-proving flights throughout the world, in an exercise designed to demonstrate readiness for airline operations.
The flights will include high-airfield performance, auto-landing trials, and airport turnaround and handling services.
Some flights will have passengers on board. The A350 -900 world tour itinerary, which includes four separate multi-stop trips over a period of three weeks, includes 14 major airports worldwide and one route over the North Pole.
MSN5 is one of five A350-900s Airbus is using for type certification flight-testing. Only two, one of them being MSN5, have fully functional cabins. The passenger cabin in MSN5 is fitted with 42 business class and 223 economy class seats.
The A350-900 route-proving flights will be operated by Airbus flight crews, with the participation of airworthiness authority pilots from the European Aviation Safety Agency.
These tests are among the last trials required for A350-900 type certification, which Airbus expects to achieve in the third quarter of this year. The first airline delivery, to Qatar Airways, will follow towards the end of the year.
After departing Toulouse on July 24, Trip One routes to Iqaluit in Canada’s Northern Territories (the flight routes over the North Pole) and then the aircraft flies a transpolar route again from Iqaluit to Frankfurt before returning to Toulouse.
Trip Two to Asia, the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, includes visits to Hong Kong and Singapore. Trip two’s full itinerary involves the routing Toulouse-Hong-Kong-Singapore-Hong-Kong-Toulouse. The aircraft will operate several Hong Kong-Singapore round-trips, emulating typical high-frequency widebody operations between major Asian destinations.
MSN5’s third trip brings the aircraft to Johannesburg and to Sydney. From Sydney it will fly to Auckland and then operate a long transpacific sector to Santiago de Chile. The aircraft will then cross South America to visit São Paulo before returning to Toulouse.
On the fourth and final trip, the A350-900 will route from Toulouse to Doha in Qatar, then on to Perth in Western Australia and back to Doha. From Doha it will fly to Moscow and from the Russian capital it will travel on to Helsinki. The last sector of the trip will see MSN5 return to Toulouse from Helsinki.
The A350-900 flight-test program has now reached more than 540 flights and 2,250 flight hours, according to Airbus.
As of July 24, Airbus had received firm orders for 740 Airbus A350 XWB-family widebodies from 38 customers.
However, Hawaiian Airlines having decided to replace its order for six A350-800s and options on six more with a commitment for up to 12 Airbus A330-800neo jets instead, the A350-800 was left by July 24 with firm orders for just 28 aircraft, from four customers.
There is a widespread belief in the commercial-aviation industry that Airbus will look to save money by killing off the proposed A350-800 and so will seek to have these customers convert their A350-800 orders, to specify either the larger A350-900 or one of the two members of the newly launched Airbus A330neo family.
Should any of the four remaining A350-800 customers choose the latter course, then the Airbus A350 XWB orderbook could well decline from its July 24 order total, until Airbus starts achieving new sales of A350-900s and A350-1000s.