PICTURES: Two more A350s commence airborne tests

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Airbus has doubled its active A350 test-flight fleet, after conducting the maiden flights of its third and fourth prototypes within the space of a few hours.

The cabin-equipped MSN2 departed Toulouse on 26 February with MSN4, which bears a hybrid livery for launch customer Qatar Airways, following later the same day.

MSN4 is carrying light instruments and will be used for low-weight envelope certification and noise measurement. MSN2 will perform cabin function tests and early long flights.

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Airbus says the first two instrumented airframes, MSN1 and MSN3, have accumulated close to 1,100h, accounting for some 45% of the overall certification programme.

One more test aircraft, MSN5, is due to join the A350 fleet around May. This aircraft will also be fitted with a cabin.