A350 prototype transfers to flight-test team

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Airbus's first flying prototype A350 has been transferred to the airframer's flight-test team, although a date for a maiden sortie has yet to be established.

The airframer declines to confirm the move, or comment on the status of the aircraft's progress since its roll-out on 13 May.

It refers to EADS chief Tom Enders' recent indications that the first flight could happen in "weeks" rather than simply during the summer.

But a source familiar with the A350's test programme says that the transfer of MSN1 to the flight-test team has taken place.

This will enable engine start and ground-run testing to begin, ahead of taxi trials. The A350-900 is fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.

The source could not give an estimate of the time the A350 might spend on ground tests before its maiden flight.

Airbus had secured 414 orders for the A350-900 before Singapore Airlines disclosed, at the end of May, that it was taking another 30 of the type - giving it 70 in total.

Singapore Airlines' decision, once converted to firm orders, will make it the largest customer for the -900 and one of the primary customers for the A350 programme alongside Qatar Airways and Emirates.