May 13, 2013
Airbus on May 17 will hand over the first A350-900, MSN001, to it’s flight-test department, industry sources tell Aviation Week.
Once transferred to the flight-test department, the aircraft will undergo the last phases of ground testing, including high-speed taxi tests. Airbus will not comment on the exact timing of these tests.
Sources familiar with the program say that it will take about 20 days to prepare the aircraft for first flight, although Airbus only will say that the aircraft will make its first flight “this summer.”
The manufacturer has indicated that it is unlikely the A350 will fly before the Paris Air Show in June, but the 20-day period ends about one week before the opening of the event at Le Bourget.
First-flight dates can be affected by weather problems or last-minute technical issues.
Airbus today rolled out MSN001 from the paint hangar. The aircraft was painted in less than a week and it’s flight-test instrumentation is largely installed, along with it’s Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. MSN001 also has completed a series of ground vibration tests.
Industry sources say the aircraft is sufficiently complete to fly very soon.
Unlike previous aircraft debuts, Airbus did not hold a roll-out ceremony, but it did present the aircraft to a group of employees.
Airbus lists 414 firm orders for the A350-900, 92 for the A350-800 and 110 for the A350-1000. Given a recent surge in demand, Chief Operating Officer-Customers John Leahy has indicated that he would like to see production rates for the aircraft increase sooner rather than later.