A350′s Trent XWB engine makes maiden flight aboard A380

On Saturday, Airbus’s A380 flying test bed made its maiden flight with the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB flying in the number two position under the superjumbo’s wing. The milestone flight for the A350 XWB’s powerplant also marked a first for the A380, which flew for the first time with different engine types.
The contrast between the A380′s Trent 900 and A350′s Trent XWB isn’t nearly as stark as the Trent 900 under the wing of the A340-300 that served as test bed for the superjumbo’s first powerplant back in June 2004.  The comparatively oversized higher-bypass Trent 900, one of two engine options on the A380 along with the Engine Alliance GP7200, dwarfed the CFM56-5C engines
The A380′s Trent 900 first flight on the A340 came approximately ten months before the A380 first flew in April 2005. As a point of comparison, the A350-900 is expected to fly in early 2013, per Airbus’s revised November 2011 schedule that pushed the type’s service entry to the first half of 2014.
There’s a great deal of speculation as to whether the higher-thrust 84,000lb Trent XWB could ever serve as a possible successor for the Trent 900 to power the larger 1000-seat A380-900 should it ever come to be. The possible groundwork may potentially be laid during this flight test program, as Airbus has already developed a prototype pylon that has a natural A380 wing interface and an A350 Trent XWB engine mounting.
Airbus flight engineering Pascal Verneau, who was interviewed last November in Toulouse demonstrating the Trent XWB flight deck interface, is shown in the video above and was part of the A380′s flight this past weekend. Verneau joined pilots Terry Lutz and Frank Chapman, experimental test flight engineer and flight test engineers Emanuele Costanzo and Tuan Do for the 5h flight.

My complete set of photos of the A380 test bed and the Trent XWB are below the fold and include and up-close look under the engine’s nacelle and flight test instrumentation.