Airbus A350 XWB development aircraft MSN3 has flown to Bolivia, where it will perform a series of tests at the high-altitude airfields of Cochabamba and La Paz.
Cochabamba’s Jorge Wilstermann International Airport is at an elevation of 8,360 feet above sea level.
La Paz’s El Alto International Airport is the world’s highest international airport, being at an elevation of 13,325 feet above sea level.
Operations at such high-altitude airfields are particularly demanding on aircraft engines, auxiliary power units and systems, according to Airbus.
The manufacturer says the aim of the Airbus A350 XWB trials is to demonstrate and validate the full functionality of the aircraft’s engines, systems and materials as well as to assess the overall behavior of the aircraft under these extreme conditions.
According to Airbus, MSN3 ‒ an Airbus A350-900 ‒ will perform a number of take-offs with all engines operating and with simulated engine failures at each of the two airfields to collect data on engine operating characteristics and validate the aircraft’s take-off performance.
The behavior of the aircraft’s autopilot will also be evaluated during automatic landings and go-arounds.
Since the A350 XWB’s first flight with MSN1 (also an A350-900) on June 14, 2013, Airbus has performed more than 800 A350 XWB flight-test hours in nearly 200 test flights, using both MSN1 and MSN3.
In total the A350 XWB flight-test campaign will accumulate around 2,500 flight hours using a fleet of five aircraft, according to the manufacturer.
The rigorous flight-testing is planned to lead to the certification of the Airbus A350-900 by the European Aviation Safety Agencies (EASA) and U.S. FAA airworthiness authorities this year, prior to the type’s planned entry into service in the fourth quarter of the year.