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Airbus details duty schedule for A350-1000 test fleet

Airbus’s flight-test programme for the A350-1000 will stretch to 1,600h, split almost evenly between the three test aircraft.

The airframer has detailed the schedule following the maiden flight of the first A350-1000, MSN59, on 24 November.

This aircraft is set to carry out 600h of testing, dealing primarily with the flight envelope, systems and powerplant checks on its Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines.

As part of the initial phase, it will be used to assess aerodynamic performance and determine the final aeronautical configuration of the variant.

Aircraft MSN71 will be the second to become airborne, with a scheduled 500h of testing set to include the cold and warm campaigns, and landing-gear checks, as well as high-altitude testing.

Both MSN59 and MSN71 will be fitted with heavy test equipment.

But the third airframe, MSN65, will have a lighter test installation, and will be configured with an interior layout for cabin development and certification.

This aircraft – also set to conduct 500h of flight tests – will be used for route proving and extended twin-engined operations assessment.

Airbus says the schedule amounts to a “reduced” campaign which will “focus” on the A350-1000’s specific features.

MSN59, which will handle much of the basic flight-testing burden, will be fitted with up to 15 video cameras as part of the certification programme. Three flight-test engineers will man an aircraft monitoring station while two specialists will handle engine monitoring.

Some 3,300 measurements will be analysed by around 220 sensors, and the aircraft will be fitted with transferable water-glycol ballast tanks capable of shifting 10t of liquid from the forward to the aft freight holds in 4min.

The aircraft can also be fitted with a 51-seat flight-test cabin for transporting ground-support and engineering personnel.

Flight-test work will be monitored on the ground by telemetry stations in Toulouse, Bremen, Hamburg and Filton, while a Dassault Falcon 20 chase aircraft will be deployed for airborne assessment support.

MSN59 will eventually be used to support entry into service work, once its flight campaign has concluded.

Airbus says the flight schedule for the Trent XWB-97 engine – fitted to the MSN1 A380 testbed – comprised an initial 148h between November last year and April this year.

It is undergoing a second series of tests, which began in July, which is set to total 157h by the end of this year. Airbus says this work is concentrated on “de-risking” as well as maturity issues, with additional certification checks for hot-weather operations, natural icing, drainage and fire-extinguishing.

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