MSN059, the first of three Airbus A350-1000 development aircraft to fly in the flight-test program for the new A350 XWB version, landed at Toulouse Blagnac Airport in southwestern France at 3:00 p.m. local time on November 24 after successfully completing a first flight of four hours and 18 minutes.
The Airbus crew on the flight deck comprised Hugues van der Stichel, experimental test pilot; Frank Chapman, experimental test pilot; and Gérard Maisonneuve, test-flight engineer.
Additionally on board the aircraft, to monitor test parameters at the Flight-Test Instrumentation (FTI) station behind the flight deck were Airbus engineers Patrick du Ché, head of flight & integration Tests; Emanuele Costanzo, head of A350 development flight tests; and Stéphane Vaux, flight-test engineer.
Powered by two Rolls-Royce’s Trent XWB-97 engines, the aircraft traversed southwestern France. During the flight the crew explored the aircraft’s handling and flight envelope.
The A350-1000 was accompanied by a chase plane to observe and film the new widebody’s various maneuvers. Its progress was monitored by experts on the ground in real-time via a direct telemetry link.
Benefiting from the experience of the original A350-900 test campaign (accomplished in 2014), the A350-1000’s development program will be shorter than that for the A350-900, according to Airbus.
The manufacturing plans for the A350-1000 flight-test program, involving all three development aircraft, to be completed in less than a year.
MSN059’s duties for performance testing will include exploration of the flight envelope, handling qualities, loads and braking.
The second aircraft to fly, MSN071, will also be tasked with performance evaluation, which will encompass braking, powerplant, systems and autopilot.
According to Airbus, the third and final development aircraft to fly – MSN065 – will be equipped with a cabin and will evaluate the cabin and air systems.
MSN065 will also perform the “early long flights” and route-proving flying planned by Airbus for the A350-1000 certification program.
Airbus expects the A350-1000 flight-test campaign to culminate in type certification and subsequent entry into airline service in the second half of 2017 with first operator Qatar Airways – the largest A350-1000 customer to date, with 37 of the type on order.
Other carriers which have ordered A350-1000s to date are United Airlines (with 35 on order); Cathay Pacific (26); Etihad Airways (22); British Airways (18); LATAM (14); Japan Airlines (13); Asiana Airlines (10); Air Lease Corporation (nine), Virgin Atlantic Airways (eight), and Air Caraïbes (three).
Together these 11 customers have placed firm orders to date for 195 A350-1000s.
Measuring 242.1 feet (73.78 meters) from nose to tail, the A350-1000 will have a maximum range of 7,950 nautical miles (14,723 kilometers).
The A350-1000 has a longer fuselage than the A350-900, translating to greater passenger capacity. It will seat 366 passengers (40 more than the A350-900) in typical three-class configuration.
Airbus’ largest twin-engine widebody to date, the A350-1000 has a planned maximum take-off weight of 679,000lb (308 tonnes) and a maximum landing weight of 514,000lb (233 tonnes).
The A350-1000’s fuel tanks will hold a total of 156,000 liters (41,200 U.S. gallons) of jet fuel.