The fifth and final Airbus A350-900 flight-test article took to the skies for the first time Friday, marking the start of the last phase of the 2,500-hour certification program. The second passenger cabin-equipped A350, MSN005 embodies the “operationally definitive” configuration for flight-test duties, said Airbus. Plans call for it to perform route proving and ETOPS validation ahead of certification in the third quarter of this year and first delivery to launch customer Qatar Airways in the fourth quarter.
The A350 XWB program has clocked more than 2,000 flight-test hours during around 500 flights, representing the highest flying rate ever achieved in Airbus flight tests. Airbus estimates each of the first four flight-test vehicles flew roughly 80 hours per month since first flight of MSN001 a little more than a year ago.