June 14, 2013
Airbus started the flight test campaign of its new A350 on Friday morning. The aircraft, MSN001, took off from Toulouse-Blagnac airport exactly at 10 a.m. local time. Thousands of employees and guests stood close to the runway to watch the take-off.
Peter Chandler, the company’s chief test pilot, is at the controls of MSN001, along with Guy Magrin, an A350 project pilot. The two are accompanied in the cockpit by Pascal Verneau, project test flight engineer. Three experimental flight test engineers Fernando Alonso, Patrick du Che and Emanuele Constanzo are monitoring the flight at test stations installed in the cabin. The flight is expected to last around four hours.
33 minutes into the flight and at 10,000 ft. altitude, the crew retracted the gear for the first time entering the next phase of testing.
With the gear successfully retracted, primary flight control computers were switched on and speed increased up to the higher end of the range at around 25,000 ft.
Airbus has given up initial plans to take the aircraft up to 43,000 ft. Frank Chapman, experimental test pilot, says that decision was made because it turned out in the latest planning the first flight would have taken much longer than the four hours foreseen. The second flight is to last around 6-7 hours and will include going up to the aircraft’s maximum service altitude.
The aircraft will make a fly past over the runway at 1,000 ft. before returning for landing.
Airbus plans to fly the aircraft over the Paris air show next week, but that is subject to post-flight analysis and clearance.
See photos of the first flight on Aviation Week's Things With Wings blog.