Airbus has decided to bring an A350 XWB flight-test airplane to the Singapore Airshow next month, marking the first “full” display of the model at an international airshow. Plans call for flight-test airplane MSN3 to appear on static display on February 11 and 12. Airbus also expects the airplane to participate in the flying displays on both days. Carriers from the region that have already ordered the aircraft include AirAsia X, Air China, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Thai Airways International and Vietnam Airlines. In all, Airbus has collected firm orders for 812 A350s from 39 customers.
The stop in Singapore would actually mark the second time an A350 appeared in the air at an international show. The first A350, MSN1, flew past President Francois Hollande on the final business day of the 2013 Paris Air Show, on June 17.
The first A350 XWB to fly (MSN1) took off last June 14, and the second (MSN3) took to the air on October 14. The test regime has included identification and freeze of all flap and slat configurations, loads and aeroelastic testing and evaluation of handling characteristics and systems operation throughout the operational envelope.
Early this month, MSN3 arrived in Bolivia to perform a series of tests at the high-altitude airfields of Cochabamba and La Paz. Cochabamba lies around 8,300 feet above sea level, and La Paz ranks as one of the world’s highest airports at 13,300 feet. Flight test crews demonstrated and validated the full functionality of engines, systems, materials as well as assessed the overall aircraft behavior under the extreme conditions. On January 13, the airplane flew from Bolivia to Fort de France, Martinique, for hot weather engine tests at sea level.
After returning to Airbus’s home test site in Toulouse, France, MSN3 on Friday flew to Iqaluit, Canada to perform extreme cold weather tests. The company expects it to spend about a week there before returning to Toulouse ahead of the Singapore show.
Separately, Airbus last month performed the ultimate load test of the A350’s wing, applying loads up to 1.5 times higher than those the aircraft would ever encounter in its entire in-service life. At ultimate load, the A350 XWB wingtip deflection exceeds five meters (16.4 feet). Airbus performed the test on an A350 static test airframe built specifically to demonstrate structural integrity. Engineers monitor strains induced into the airframe in real time using more than 10,000 measurement channels. They then analyze the data recorded and correlated it to structural computer models used to design the airframe.
Since the A350 XWB’s first flight with MSN1 on June 14, crews have logged almost 900 flight test hours during close to 200 flights by both MSN1 and MSN3. Plans call for MSN2 and MSN4 to fly “in the coming weeks” and for five A350 XWB test aircraft to accumulate around 2,500 flight hours. Airbus expects to win certification of the A350-900 from the European EASA and U.S. FAA airworthiness authorities by this year’s fourth quarter.