Airbus is preparing to take the A350-900 on an extensive series of route-proving flights as one of the final phases of testing before certification in September.
The route-proving will essentially comprise four parts, says A350 programme chief Didier Evrard, to demonstrate that the type can operate various services under different weather conditions.
Its MSN5 airframe will operate to Canada and undertake tests for ocean transit and, around early August, is scheduled to perform a set of flights in Asia, including services between Singapore and Hong Kong.
MSN5 will be flown to Doha – the base of launch customer Qatar Airways – as well as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile and Brazil, and operate sectors in northern Europe and Russia.
Passengers will be carried on a limited number of flights, such as the Singapore-Hong Kong shuttles, but Airbus points out that the one-way nature of the routing would make ad hoc transport difficult.
Evrard says the aircraft will be flown “day and night” through this “very intensive phase”. Pilots from customer airlines will be invited to operate the aircraft during the programme.
Although Doha will be included as a stop, Qatar Airways pilots have already had a chance to fly the A350 during the hot-weather campaign in Al Ain earlier this year.
Airbus expects the route proving to conclude by around 15 August before the airframer embarks on a series of tests to finalise the extended twin-engined operations (ETOPS) work.
As part of the ETOPS effort Airbus intends around five or six flights, operating the A350-900 with only one of its Rolls-Royce Trent XWB powerplants operating for some 4-5h.
“The plan is to fly with one engine and do a number of tests [with various] failure modes,” says Evrard. These sectors will probably be flown off the French Atlantic coast.
Airbus also needs to carry out a rejected take-off test at maximum energy, which will involve aborting a high-speed take-off roll from Istres under braking power while carrying a high payload.