Production representative Trent XWBs readied for A350 testing

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The first set of “production-representative” Trent XWB engines for the Airbus A350 is being prepared for installation onto the final test aircraft in Toulouse, while the first full production specification engine has been shipped to Airbus for installation on the initial customer airframe.

Airbus tells Flightglobal that the production-representative Trents will power the last of its five flight-test A350-900s (MSN5), which is currently in the paint shop and due to join the certification campaign in June to verify the type’s delivery specification. This aircraft is the first batch 2 airframe built to full production specification and is the second A350 to be equipped with a furnished cabin. It is in the paint shop having an Airbus scheme applied.

Airbus says that while MSN5’s Trents are not the first production standard engines built, they are “production representative, as the aircraft will test the standard that will be delivered to customers”. It adds: “They have been delivered to the podding facility in Toulouse and will be installed after MSN5 leaves the paint shop.”

As a production-representative aircraft, MSN5 incorporates weight-saving and is equipped with nickel-cadmium batteries in place of the original lithium-ion power fitted to earlier test A350s. Airbus made the power switch last year in the wake of the Boeing 787’s battery issues.

The aircraft will participate in the A350’s route-proving programme which is due to be flown in conjunction with Qatar Airways in Doha.

Meanwhile Rolls-Royce yesterday dispatched the first production Trent XWB to Toulouse. This engine is the one of two that will be installed on to A350-900 MSN6 which is undergoing assembly. It is due to be the first aircraft delivered to launch customer Qatar Airways later this year.

Airbus is targeting certification for the A350 in third quarter, to enable deliveries to begin in time for a service debut with Qatar Airways before the end of 2014.