A350 begins south-east Asian flight tests

Hong Kong
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Airbus's fifth aircraft in its A350 test fleet, MSN5, has commenced a series of flight tests between Singapore and Hong Kong.

The series of function and reliability tests will look at how the the A350-900 will perform in typical airline service, with an emphasis on short turnarounds, operating in hot, tropical conditions, and the impact of the environment on aircraft systems.

On a 29 July flight, the aircraft departed Singapore during mid-morning with about 51t of fuel, and took over 5h to fly to Hong Kong.

The flight time was exceptionally long because the aircraft took a long detour up the western side of the Malay peninsula, before turning east and flying out over the South China Sea.

Well out into the South China Sea, above the Indonesian-owned islands of Pulau Siantan and Pulau Matak, the aircraft turned northwest towards Hong Kong. The additional flying was intended to help in the aircraft's certification process.

Throughout the flight, MSN5 cruised at 40,000ft. The aircraft covered 2,200nm during the mission.

Unusually, the flight carried three journalists as well as representatives of Singapore Airlines - which has ordered 70 A350-900s - plus people from other companies involved in the programme.

During the flight MSN5 carried three test pilots and three engineers. Two of the engineers operated a systems monitoring station in the aircraft's rear economy-class cabin for the duration of the flight.

Singapore-Hong Kong is one of the most heavily-trafficked air routes in the Asia-Pacific region, and an important market for future A350 operators SIA and Cathay Pacific.