PARIS: A350 appearance remains in the balance

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Airbus insists an appearance by the A350-900 at the Paris air show is not a certainty and would only be considered if it was compatible with the aircraft's test schedule.

The prototype aircraft, MSN1, is undergoing around four days of downtime while a thorough inspection is carried out following its maiden sortie on 14 June.

No appearance at the show could take place until at least a third flight, and a second flight is unlikely before 19 June, A350 chief test pilot Peter Chandler tells Flight Daily News.

"We'd always allocated the first two flights to validation of the normal flight envelope," he says.

The first enabled testing of the high-lift configurations and limited operations to 25,000ft while the second will involve high-altitude and high Mach tests which will fully open the envelope.

Chandler says Airbus needs to check the whole of the envelope under direct and normal flight-control laws. But the first flight proceeded smoothly, he says, enabling the crew to accomplish their main tasks.

He stresses that a pass at the show has not been slotted into the test-flight schedule. An appearance at Paris could only be conducted if it was "compatible with a test flight and we've done everything we need".

French president Francois Hollande is due to attend the show on 21 June. But Chandler insists there is "no pressure from management" to fly the aircraft at Le Bourget, and adds: "There's no commitment to do it. We've given no commitment to do it."

Chandler says the air show organisers have not imposed any "hard criteria" on the A350, and are "leaving it to us" to establish any limitations on manoeuvring.

"We have to ensure the aeroplane is safe to do whatever we do with it," he says, adding that the aircraft would have to comply with the normal rules governing Le Bourget flights.

Chandler and his crew performed a fly-by and turn-away at Toulouse shortly before conducting the A350's first landing, and he says that, if circumstances permitted an appearance at Paris, any display would probably be kept similarly simple.