Airbus has secured European certification for the A350-900 following a 15-month flight-test campaign comprising more than 2,600h.
The European Aviation Safety Agency has certified the aircraft with two maximum take-off weight variants: a basic 268t and a higher 275t option.
This higher capability is intended to mitigate the A350’s airframe weight which is around 3t above Airbus’s target specification.
A350 programme chief Didier Evrard says the manufacturer can “now proceed with the next step of the delivery process”, adding that the first customer aircraft, MSN6 for Qatar Airways, is “ready to be transferred” to the Airbus flight-test team.
“We will define a delivery date with the customer,” says Evrard, but stresses that this will be “before the end of the year, for sure”.
The US FAA has yet to grant parallel certification for the aircraft but chief engineer Gordon McConnell says he expects this “very shortly”, adding: “We’re not anticipating any problem with that.”
He says the A350 has completed extended twin-engined operations (ETOPS) testing and that Airbus is waiting for the agencies to confirm the ETOPS limits to be placed on the aircraft.
“We’re not going to predict what the authorities are going to grant us,” says McConnell. “We’ll have ETOPS clearance before we go into service.”
Airbus has kept to its aim of achieving certification in the third quarter of 2014, and McConnell attributes the smooth process to up-front work.
“Early system tests on the ground, more simulation and modelling, more integrated tests between equipment and systems have really paid dividends,” he says.
Evrard says that Airbus will be turning its attention in October to satisfying Qatar Airways’ demands for a smooth entry into service, which will involve further flight tests to assure familiarity with the aircraft and its customisation.
Airbus chief Fabrice Bregier says the development programme has been "innovative and ambitious", intended to produce a "fully mature aircraft at entry into service". He adds: "Our fleet of five test aircraft completed the certification campaign, on time, cost and quality."