Airbus expects to sell some of A350 test fleet

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Airbus expects eventually to sell part of the A350-900 test fleet to customers, although it has not indicated how many of the five jets could be transferred.

The airframer is aiming for A350 certification in the third quarter and is preparing to introduce the final test aircraft, MSN5, to the programme.

MSN5 will have a full cabin fit and be used for route proving. One other A350, MSN2, is cabin-fitted while MSN1 and MSN3 have undertaken much of the heavy development testing.

Airbus Group chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm, speaking as the company disclosed first-quarter results, said that “some of them are expected to be sold”.

But he added that this would only take place “at a much later point in time”. He did not state how many of the aircraft could conceivably be handed on.

Boeing had six aircraft in its 787-8 test fleet but could only consider three of them as potential sale airframes because of the extensive modifications made to the other three.

Wilhelm says the airframer has ensured that the book value of the A350 test fleet has been kept realistic, and adds that it “wouldn’t count on a big profit contribution” from any sale. “We don’t expect any substantial profit or loss from it,” he says.

Two A350s are undergoing final assembly in Toulouse ahead of the first delivery, to Qatar Airways, scheduled for the fourth quarter.