Airbus’ A350 XWB MSN3 development aircraft with a team of 48 Airbus specialists have arrived at Iqaluit, Canada for several days of cold weather trials. The various tests for the aircraft its engines and its systems include a ‘cold soak’ down to minus double-digit temperatures. The scope of the trials include: APU and engine starts after cold soak; verification of system behaviour; low-speed taxi and rejected take-offs; thrust-reverser tests with snow.
This latest phase of the development test programme comes only days after MSN3’s completion of the “hot-and-high” tests in Bolivia. Since the A350 XWB’s first flight with MSN1 on June 14th 2013, over 890 flight test hours have been performed in close to 200 test flights by both MSN1 and MSN3. In total the A350 XWB flight test campaign will accumulate around 2,500 flight hours with the fleet of five aircraft. The rigorous flight testing will lead to the certification of the A350-900 by the European EASA and US FAA airworthiness authorities, prior to entry into service in Q4 2014.
John Leahy, Airbus’s Chief Operating Officer, Customers commented at the show that, “Our A350 XWB has been out-selling the 787 by better than 2- to-1 over the last five years.”
Boeing has been in this fight longer and so has notched up an impressive 930 orders with 57 deliveries to date compared with Airbus’s 678 orders.
After Boeing’s battle with delays and battery problems on the 787, Airbus’s dramatic test flight at Le Bourget is a physical manifestation of Leahy’s confidence in the aircraft. But as Boeing has learned, the road from first flight to certification and customer deliveries is not always straight, smooth or fast.