By the end of September, Airbus expects to have received European Aviation Safety Agency type certification for the A350 ahead of delivery of the first two aircraft– manufacturer’s serial numbers (MSNs) 006 and 007–to Qatar Airways by the end of the year. The final flight-test aircraft, MSN005, flew on June 20–a year and six days after the type’s maiden flight.
By then, the initial four aircraft had logged more than 2,000 hours as part of a longer, 2,500-hour flight-test campaign. Flight-testing time has averaged 80 hours per month per aircraft, the highest rate achieved by Airbus on any program, and sometimes exceeded 100 hours, according to head of developmental flight test Patrick du Che, who reports a “significant reduction” in the number of “snags” compared with previous projects. Du Che attributes this to Airbus having validated and verified aircraft and systems maturity before first flight.
Here is a look at the status of each flight-test aircraft:
MSN001–With a heavy flight-test equipment fit, MSN001 has been used for initial flight handling, natural icing, and powerplant and systems testing.
Logbook (to June 2): first flight June 14, 2013; 192 flights; block hours 856; flight cycles 512.
MSN003–The second A350 to fly, with similar flight-test instrumentation, MSN003 has been engaged in high-altitude and hot- and cold-weather trials, performance measurement, and powerplant and systems tests.
Logbook (to June 2): first flight Oct. 14, 2013; 160 flights; block hours 695; flight cycles 378.
MSN002–Equipped with the first A350 passenger interior and medium-level test instruments fit, MSN002 has been used in systems testing, in-flight entertainment and hot- and cold-cabin trials and also early long flights.
Logbook (to June 2): first flight Feb. 26, 2014; 27 flights; block hours 155; flight cycles 29.
MSN004–The lightly instrumented MSN004 was earmarked for external sound-level and lightning-strike tests, development and certification of avionics, and customer flight- and maintenance-crew training.
Logbook (to June 2): first flight Feb. 26, 2014; 60 flights; block hours 199; flight cycles 221.
MSN005–The final A350 flight-test machine features a full passenger cabin interior fit and light flight-test instrumentation and is being used for cabin operability and training, extended twin-engine operations (Etops) approval and route proving.