A new chapter has opened in Airbus’ 43 year history as the first A350 XWB, the world’s most efficient large twin-engined commercial aircraft, powered aloft this morning for its maiden flight at Blagnac in Toulouse, France at 10.00 hours local time. Equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB turbofans, the A350 XWB first flight is taking place over south western France.
An international crew of six is on board, comprising two Flight Test Pilots, one Test Flight Engineer and three Flight Test Engineers. At the controls of the A350 XWB’s first flight are Peter Chandler, Airbus’ Chief Test Pilot, and Guy Magrin, Project Pilot for the A350 XWB. Accompanying them in the cockpit is Pascal Verneau, the A350 XWB Project Test Flight Engineer. At their flight test stations in the main aircraft cabin and monitoring the progress of the flight via an extensive array of flight test instrumentation are the three flight test engineers: Fernando Alonso, Head of Airbus Flight & Integration Test Centre; Patrick du Ché, Head of Development Flight Tests; and Emanuele Costanzo, lead Flight Test Engineer for the Trent XWB engine.
This first flight marks the beginning of a test campaign totaling around 2,500 flight hours with a fleet of five development aircraft. The rigorous flight testing will lead to the certification of the A350-900 variant by the European EASA and US FAA airworthiness authorities, prior to entry into service in the second half of 2014 with first operator Qatar Airways.
The A350 XWB is Airbus’ all-new mid-size long range product line comprising three versions and seating between 270 and 350 passengers in spacious three-class layouts. The new family will bring a step change in efficiency compared with existing aircraft in this size category, using 25 per cent less fuel and providing an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions. To date the A350 XWB has already won 613 firm orders from 33 customers worldwide.