Airbus (Toulouse, France) on Jan. 14 flew for the first time its A350 XWB, the composites-intensive, twin-engined commercial aircraft. It took off on its maiden flight at Blagnac in Toulouse, France at 10:00 am local time. Equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB turbofans, the A350 XWB first flight is taking place over southwestern France.
An international crew of six was 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 were Peter Chandler, Airbus’ chief test pilot, and Guy Magrin, project pilot for the A350 XWB. Accompanying them in the cockpit was 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 were 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 flight testing will lead to the certification of the A350-900 variant by the European EASA and U.S. 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 three-class layouts. The new family uses 25 percent less fuel and provides an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions. To date the A350 XWB has already won 613 firm orders from 33 customers worldwide.
The first flight can be viewed online at www.a350xwbfirstflight.com.
Congratulating Airbus for the accomplishment included several suppliers of composite materials and parts for the aircraft, including GKN Aerospace, Hexcel, Spirit AeroSystems and FACC.
Editor PickGardner Business Index at 54.1 in January
The US composites industry looks as strong as it has since early 2015, with expectations the highest in years.