A plainly visible sign of progress on the Airbus A350 program emerged last week with the installation of the first pair of Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and the new Honeywell HGT1700 auxiliary power unit at the airframer’s production facilities in Toulouse, France.
The pair of new Trent engines, each designed to produce 84,000 pounds of thrust for the A350-900, arrived in Toulouse from UTC Aerospace Systems (formerly Goodrich), which recently prepared the fully integrated powerplants before their installation on the aircraft’s pylons. On February 7 the Trent XWB received EASA engine type certification following 3,100 hours of operation, including a series of test flights on Airbus’ A380 flying test bed (FTB) since the first engine prototype took to the air in February last year.
With installation last week of the airplane’s Honeywell APU, specially developed for the A350, MSN001 becomes essentially a “completed” aircraft. Airbus plans to hand over MSN001 to the Airbus Flight Test team for first flight preparations following ongoing ground tests, other mechanical preparations and painting in the coming weeks. It expects to fly the airplane for the first time this summer, roughly a year ahead of planned certification of the A350-900.
The third A350 XWB started to take shape in February on the Toulouse final assembly line, where engineers began joining the aircraft’s three fuselage sections following their arrival from St. Nazaire, France (front and center) and Hamburg, Germany (aft) aboard a Beluga transporter. Meanwhile, the second airframe, designated MSN5000, continues to undergo preparations for static testing in another hangar.
Airbus has collected firm orders from 35 customers for 415 A350-900s, 110 A350-1000s and 92 A350-800s.