Airbus A350-1000 completes first flight

Development on track for entry into service is scheduled for the second half of 2017.

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The first of three Airbus (Toulouse, France) A350-1000 development aircraft, Airbus’ largest and most powerful twin-engined airliner ever, made its first flight on Nov. 24. Its first flight lasted four hours and 18 minutes. The A350-1000, like the A350-900, features carbon fiber composites in more than 50% of its structure.

Powered by Rolls-Royce’s new Trent XWB-97 engines, the aircraft traversed south-western France, during which the crew explored the aircraft’s handling and flight envelope. The aircraft was accompanied by a chase plane to observe and film the various manoeuvres. Its progress was monitored by experts on the ground in real-time via a direct telemetry link.

Benefitting from the experience of the original A350-900 test campaign (accomplished in 2014), the A350-1000’s development program will be shorter – under one year for the three aircraft. MSN059’s duties for performance testing will include exploration of the flight envelope, handling qualities, loads and braking. The second aircraft to fly, MSN071, will also be tasked with performance evaluation, which will encompass braking, powerplant, systems and autopilot. The third and final aircraft to fly – MSN065 – will be equipped with a cabin and will evaluate the cabin and air systems. MSN065 will also perform the “early long flights” and route-proving. The overall campaign will culminate in the type’s certification followed by its entry into airline service in the second half of 2017 with first operator Qatar Airways – the largest A350-1000 customer to date with 37 on order.

The A350-1000 is the latest member of the Airbus leading widebody family, together with the A330neo. The A350-1000 measures about 74m from nose to tail and seats 366 passengers in a typical three-class configuration and flies on routes of up to almost 8,000 nautical miles. To date, 11 customers from five continents have placed orders for a total of 195 A350-1000s.