Airbus A380 test aircraft MSN009 will be workhorse to bear brunt of Engine Alliance GP7200 certification programme

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Airbus A380 test aircraft manufacturer's serial number 009 (MSN009) is set to perform around 95% of the Engine Alliance GP7200-powered A380 certification testing.

The certification trials are expected to last around nine months in all, with flying scheduled for completion at the end of June 2007. The first test phase will be dedicated to performance work to assess the engine-airframe combination over a series of take-offs, lapse-rates, climb and cruise points, with the bulk of this taking place through September and into November this year. The aircraft will then be progressively devoted to systems development work from December into January 2007, with the formal certification test phase running from around February onwards.

The test period will include several weather-related "hard spots", says Engine Alliance president Bruce Hughes. "We'll try to do natural icing around April, and there's a spot for cold weather testing in the January/February period. Then we've got a chunk for our hot weather testing in September/October," he adds.

A full team of mechanics and field representatives will also accompany the aircraft, and later the second GP7200-powered A380, during the flight tests. This will include some personnel from Emirates, which will be the first airline to take the GP7200-powered variant beginning in October 2007.

A large complement of software and control engineers are also taking part in the tests and will help define precise management through the full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) by linking real-life performance and operability data with test runs using the Toulouse-based 'iron bird' test rig.