A350 cabin simulator performs first virtual passenger flight

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Airbus has completed an initial five-hour simulated flight using its A350 cabin demonstrator, Cabin Zero, which is located in Hamburg.

Two pilots and eight flight attendants participated in the simulation along with 129 passengers. Airbus says they treated the virtual flight identically to a real service, from boarding to disembarkation.

Cabin Zero is designed to test interior systems and equipment in near-reality conditions, in order to ensure a sufficient maturity level ahead of service entry.

It comprises a section of A350 fuselage kitted with the same systems installed on a flying airframe. The virtual flight exercise included catering from the Cabin Zero galley.

"Use of such equipment allows this test to be performed before an aircraft with a fully equipped cabin is completed and the first passengers can be transported," says Airbus.

Two of the five A350s in the test fleet - MSN2 and MSN5 - will be fitted with cabin interiors. These aircraft will be used for early long flight, evacuation and route-proving tests.

The Cabin Zero exercise included operation of the lighting systems and crew communication equipment. "Having stowed their hand luggage, the passengers were able to try out different seats," adds Airbus.

Airbus began flight tests with MSN1, the first flying prototype, in mid-June. The A350 is scheduled to enter service in the second half of 2014.