PICTURE: Airbus test-flies A350 fuselage panel on A340

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Airbus has started test-flying a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic fuselage panel intended to become a standard structural component of the A350.

The airframer has replaced a regular aluminium fuselage section on one of its A340 test aircraft with the panel, manufactured at its facility in Nantes.

It is conducting a three-week flight-test programme to assess the acoustic characteristics of the carbon-fibre reinforced plastic under pressurised conditions.

The panel has been linked to microphones and its acoustic behaviour will be examined when combined with various insulation materials.

Airbus says that this will enable it to "fine-tune" sound insulation for the A350 twin-jet's cabin. The panel has an area of 15m² (160ft²).

 a350 panel
 © Airbus/H Gousse