The Airbus A350 XWB has made its first-ever landing on British soil, visiting Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire as part of routine certification tests.
A350-900 MSN3, the second Airbus A350 XWB flight-test aircraft to fly, was captained for the flight to the UK by Capt. Frank Chapman, a London-born experimental test pilot for Airbus.
MSN3 is one of four Airbus A350-900 test aircraft currently flying and undergoing rigorous testing in preparation for the A350’s certification and entry into service later this year.
In total the A350 XWB flight-test campaign will accumulate around 2,500 flight hours and will use a fleet of five aircraft, according to Airbus.
“The A350 XWB has significant UK input, as the wings and fuel systems are designed at the Airbus facilities in Filton, Bristol and assembled at the company’s Broughton plant in North Wales while the engines are made by Rolls-Royce in Derby and the landing gear by Messier-Bugatti-Dowty in Gloucestershire,” says Chapman.
“This visit is part of the aircraft’s certification,” continues Chapman. “Experts from the nearby Airbus Filton facility are playing a key role in supporting the fuel system tests.”
Chapman adds: “I’m immensely proud to be flying the first A350 XWB to land in the UK and look forward to this aircraft being a regular feature in British skies over the coming years.”
The A350 XWB is Airbus’ new mid-size, long-range family of widebody commercial jets and initially will comprise three versions.
In ascending order of size these are the A350-800 (of which few have been sold), the A350-900 (a competitor in size to the Boeing 777-200ER) and the Airbus A350-1000, seen as a new-generation rival for the Boeing 777-300ER.
According to Airbus, the new family will bring a 25 per cent step-change in efficiency compared with existing aircraft in the same size categories.
At the end of March, orders for the A350 XWB program totaled 812 aircraft for 39 customers.