Airbus is planning to flood the cargo compartment of its A330-200 freighter as part of the testing regime, to check that it can handle water run-off during loading in poor weather.
The A330 freighter is due to make its first flight in November and Airbus aims to achieve certification by March 2010, ahead of first deliveries in the summer.
Speaking during a briefing to update the programme, A330-200F chief engineer Matthias Ierovante said that the twin-jet's main deck would be flooded with 1,000lt (264USgal) of water to "simulate real conditions".
"We need to ensure that the drainage is OK," he says, pointing out that snow and rain can accumulate on freight pallets, creating run-off inside the aircraft.
MSN1004 will undertake the flight certification programme, but A330 freighter programme manager Jens Knaack says that the airframer has also conducted related advanced testing on four passenger A330s.
Airbus expects the flight-test campaign to take around 200hr, across three or four months. A second aircraft is currently in final assembly.
Initial output in 2010 will amount to fewer than 10 aircraft, says the airframer, given the slump in the cargo market, but production should be ramped up by 2012-13.
Ierovante says that Airbus has conducted studies into a possible A330-300 freighter which, he says, would essentially be a stretch of the -200F, but the airframer has yet to indicate whether it will proceed with development.
"We're looking at every passenger aircraft to find out what it would look like if turned into a freighter," says Ierovante. He adds that the manufacturer would "not face any technical issues" if it launched a -300F.
Source: Air Transport Intelligence news