Airbus flew the first CFM International CFM56-5 powered A318 on its maiden flight on 29 August from its Finkenwerder, Hamburg, site to its Toulouse flight-test facility. The 4h 2min flight was captained by Airbus experimental test pilot Philippe Pellerin with Airbus chief pilot Bernd Schäfer as first officer.

The CFM56-powered aircraft follows the Pratt &Whitney PW6000 version into the air,but will be the first variant to enter service following development problems with the PW6000.

Pellerin says the aircraft "met Airbus's expectations" in terms of performance, adding that the aircraft and engine were already well understood, with the aircraft-engine combination the subject of the test. The crew tested the aircraft's performance in direct and normal flight control laws, explored airspeeds from 103kt(191km/h) to Mach 0.82, and reached an altitude of 39,000ft (11,900m).

The low-speed tests were performed using normal flight-control laws, says Pellerin. The CFM56-5s were rated at 23,000lb-thrust (102kN), which allowed a take-off weight of 60,000kg (132,160lb). The baseline A318 maximum take-off weight is 59,000kg with engines rated at 21,600lb. "The thrust variation is achieved by an adjustment of the [digital engine control] only," says Stuart Mann, Airbus product marketing director A320 family.

The CFM56-5 powered A318 will enter service late in the third quarter of next year, according to Airbus, with Denver, Colorado-based Frontier Airlines.

The A318 programme has slipped for six months due to the 30-month delay in the PW6000 programme. The PW6000-powered version, which flew in January, will now enter service in mid-2005.

Source: Flight International