As launch customer Qatar Airways prepares to receive new Airbus A350s next year, the Arab operator will train using an operations department at the manufacturer’s Toulouse factory in southwest France. Until then, Airbus plans to conduct flight-test activities to mirror airlines operations at that facility.
Airbus began the 2,500-hour flight-test program for its new A350XWB when the new long-range widebody took off for the first time at almost exactly 10:00 a.m. local time in Toulouse, France, on Friday. The eagerly awaited first flight over southwestern France lasted slightly more than four hours and the twinjet, powered by Rolls-Royce’s Trent XWB engines, safely touched down back in Toulouse at 2:05 p.m.
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 recent completion of European certification of Rolls-Royce’s Trent XWB not only boosted Airbus’s efforts to fly its new A350XWB widebody in the first half of this year, it freed the UK-based engine maker to turn its attention to the Trent XWB-97 turbofan, designed to power the longer-range A350-1000 (the standard 84,000-pound-thrust Trent XWB powers the -800 and -900 versions).
Los Angeles-based Air Lease Corporation (ALC) has placed a new firm order for 25 Airbus A350XWBs and converted options on 14 A321neos, the European manufacturer announced on Monday. The A350 contract calls for deliveries of 20 A350-900s and five A350-1000s and raises the total backlog for the new composite-bodied airliner to 617.
For Airbus and its A350XWB program, 2013 should prove a critical year. With service entry already pushed back to the second half of 2014, the European airframer is carefully managing expectations for a first flight as it seeks to resist the temptation to rush the key milestone in time for June’s Paris Air Show.
Qatar Airways underscored its endorsement of the largest variant of Airbus’s new A350 XWB last week by raising its firm order count for the A350-1000 to 37 from 20. The contract amendment also added three A350-900s to its previous order for 17, but it effectively scrapped Qatar’s firm order for 20 A350-800s.
Airbus has finished building the main structural assembly and system connection of the first A350 XWB flight test aircraft, MSN-001, the company announced on Tuesday. The aircraft rolled out of the main assembly hall (Station 40) at the recently inaugurated “Roger Béteille” A350 XWB Final Assembly Line in Toulouse.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) has agreed to place a $7.5 billion order with Airbus for another five A380s and 20 A350-900s, the carrier announced on Wednesday. Delivery schedules call for the first airplane to arrive in Singapore in 2017.
Joined by top U.S. transportation officials, Boeing and American Airlines showcased the 737-800 “ecoDemonstrator” flying testbed at Washington Reagan National Airport on September 18. Boeing had flown the aircraft from its flight-test facility at Glasgow, Montana, the preceding day using a biofuel blend made partially from used cooking oil.