A350 XWB test fleet now complete: ‘MSN005’ – the fifth and final flight-test aircraft takes to the skies

Press Release by Airbus

With the first flight today of A350 MSN005, the five-strong development fleet is now complete. Being the second passenger cabin-equipped A350 and tasked with route proving and ETOPS validation, MSN005 embodies the operationally definitive configuration for Type Certification duties. This milestone means that the A350 XWB development programme is at full speed and on track for certification in the third quarter of this year, to be followed thereafter by delivery of the first customer aircraft to Qatar Airways in the fourth quarter.

As of today, the A350 XWB programme has already achieved more than 2,000 flight-test hours in around 500 flights, and with this the programme is demonstrating the highest flying rate ever achieved in Airbus flight tests, with around 80 flight hours per aircraft per month.


A350 XWB flying test fleet doubles size

Press Release by Airbus

The A350 XWB flight test aircraft, MSN2 and MSN4, have both taken to the skies above Toulouse, France today for their respective first flights, bringing the total number of A350 XWBs now flying from two to four.

To date, the first two A350 XWB test aircraft to fly, MSN1 and MSN3, have already performed close to 1100 flight test hours out of the programme’s total 2500 hours planned for certification.

MSN2, with its special “carbon” inspired livery, will be the first A350 XWB test aircraft to feature a full passenger cabin. This allows Airbus to start testing and validating all the cabin and passenger related systems. As part of these cabin tests, MSN2 will carry the first A350 XWB passengers during the Early Long Flights (ELF) in spring.

Kuwait Airways firms up commitment for 25 Airbus aircraft

Press Release by Airbus

Airbus confirms Kuwait Airways, the National airline of Kuwait, has ordered 25 aircraft including ten A350-900 and 15 A320neo Family aircraft as part of the airlines’ fleet renewal strategy. Kuwait Airways already operates three A320, three A310, five A300 and four A340 Family aircraft.

“We are pleased to sign this deal with Airbus at this juncture of our sixty years journey” said Rasha Al Roumi, Kuwait Airways Chairperson. “The A350-900 will strengthen our long haul route development whilst the A320neo will further boost our regional route network. These aircraft are an essential part of our ambitious growth plans.”

“We are proud that Kuwait Airways chose our newest, most efficient aircraft families to build its future,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “By choosing the A320neo and A350 XWB, Kuwait Airways will offer its passengers the industry’s best-in-class cabin experience on both long and short haul routes, flying them comfortably in the widest seats in all classes.”

The A320neo is offered as an option for the A320 Family and incorporates new more efficient engines and large “Sharklet” wing tip devices, which together will deliver up to 15 percent in fuel savings. It is as well the fastest selling commercial airliner ever.

The A350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body) is an all-new mid-size long range product line comprising three versions. The new Family, whose fuselage cross-section is optimized to accommodate Airbus’ 18-inch economy seat-width for long range passenger comfort, will also bring a 25 percent step change in efficiency compared with existing aircraft in this size category.

A350 XWB MSN3 commences cold weather testing in Iqaluit Canada

Press Release by Airbus

Airbus’ A350 XWB MSN3 development aircraft with a team of 48 Airbus specialists have arrived at Iqaluit, Canada for several days of cold weather trials. The various tests for the aircraft its engines and its systems include a ‘cold soak’ down to minus double-digit temperatures. The scope of the trials include: APU and engine starts after cold soak; verification of system behaviour; low-speed taxi and rejected take-offs; thrust-reverser tests with snow.

This latest phase of the development test programme comes only days after MSN3’s completion of the “hot-and-high” tests in Bolivia. Since the A350 XWB’s first flight with MSN1 on June 14th 2013, over 890 flight test hours have been performed in close to 200 test flights by both MSN1 and MSN3. In total the A350 XWB flight test campaign will accumulate around 2,500 flight hours with the fleet of five aircraft. The rigorous flight testing will lead to the certification of the A350-900 by the European EASA and US FAA airworthiness authorities, prior to entry into service in Q4 2014.

Certification Nears For Three Airframers’ Programs

By Jens Flottau, Guy Norris & Bradley Perrett,

If 2013 was the year of two very important first flights, 2014 will have to be an important year of execution: Airbus has committed to delivering the first A350-900, Boeing will hand over the first stretched 787-9, and the first Bombardier CS100 is still officially due for entry into service.

Airbus is facing a crucial 12 months as it enters the second half of the A350-900 flight-test program. Two aircraft, MSN1 and MSN3, are currently performing the tests, which Airbus says have been mostly successful so far. Following an initial phase of handling tests, Airbus has continuously moved into the part of the campaign that is addressing a long list of items required for certification. Three more aircraft are to join the flight-test program—MSN2, MSN4 and MSN5—the first two in February and the last in May. Airbus expects the aircraft to receive its type certificate at the end of August or in early September, a little more than 14 months after first flight. Qatar Airways will then take delivery of the first aircraft in the fourth quarter.

Airbus currently holds 814 firm orders for the A350, the bulk of which (549) are for the baseline A350-900. Meanwhile, Airbus is shifting engineering resources to the stretched A350-1000, due to enter service in 2017. There are 186 firm orders for the -1000, which has seen a notable pick-up in demand. Airbus has pushed back entry into service of the -1000 by almost two years to allow more time for Rolls-Royce to upgrade the engines as demanded by key customers, mainly Persian Gulf carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

The future of the smallest version, the A350-800, appears to still hang in the balance. Airbus is officially committed to building the aircraft—the backlog has shrunk to 79 units—but the manufacturer is now hearing from customers that it should seriously consider stretching it to counter the threat posed by the newly launched Boeing 777X. While Airbus is unlikely to make a formal decision next year, 2014 will be a crucial time to prepare for that step.

Airbus is proud that its A330 has been selling so well in recent years, and in fact has outsold the 787 since its launch. But in spite of the launch of the 242-ton version that increased its range, and a regional variant optimized for shorter-haul efficiency, there are indications that the A330 boom may not continue. From January to November 2013, Airbus sold just 48 of the type, compared to the 164 Boeing garnered for the 787.

If that trend continues, Airbus may not only face serious questions about the future of the A350-800, but may also have to take a close look at what it could do do refresh the A330 further. Some of its customers, most notably Air Asia X, have been asking for a reengined version. Since the market success of the A320neo, the concept has gained traction to the extent that Emirates now wants the A380 to be re-engined; so it is clearly an option for the A330, although Airbus has been trying to play down that idea so far.

The formal launch of the 777X at the Dubai Airshow in November marked a watershed for Boeing, which moves from a multi-year period of planning into an intense phase of program execution. The new-generation long-range twin family is the final piece of a 12-year product development plan covering the 150- to 450-plus-seat range with four major models and nine variants.

Sourced by Aviation Week

A350 MSN2 rolls out of paint hangar with special ‘Carbon’ livery

Press Release by Airbus

On Thursday 2nd January 2014 Airbus rolled-out its third A350 XWB flight-test aircraft, MSN2, from the paint shop in Toulouse, marking yet another successful milestone on the path to entry-into-service in Q4 2014. As well as featuring a distinctive “Carbon” signature livery to reflect its primary construction from advanced materials, this aircraft is also the first of two A350 flight test aircraft to be equipped with a full passenger cabin interior.

MSN2 will join the A350 XWB flight test fleet in the coming weeks and will be the first A350 to transport passengers when it undertakes the Early Long Flights (ELF) later in the year.

Composite materials in Airbus aircraft have seen a step-by-step introduction that started with the A310 which was first rolled-out in February 1982. Benefiting from over 30 years of composite material experience, 53% of the A350 XWB’s airframe is made-up of carbon-fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) including Airbus’ first carbon-fibre fuselage.

Air Caraïbes commits to six A350XWBs

Press Release by Airbus

Air Caraibes has signed a firm contract with Airbus for three A350-1000s, the largest member of Airbus’ new generation A350XWB Family. The airline will also lease three new A350-900s from ILFC. The aircraft will enter into service between 2016 and 2022.

The Air Caraïbes’ A350-1000s will seat 439 passengers in three classes, and the -900 will seat 387 passengers. The aircraft will be operated on the airline’s routes from Paris to Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Marteen, Haïti, Saint-Domingue and French Guyana which are currently flown by five A330s.

“We are delighted with our decision to buy A350-1000s”, said Jean-Paul Dubreuil, President of the Supervisory Board of Air Caraïbes.  “We already benefit from the excellent performance and economics of our fleet of five A330s, and this new order for A350s will allow us to add capacity and give us an unrivalled economic advantage in a very competitive market”.

“Having Air Caraïbes come back with this new, incremental order for the A350 XWB is great news and a strong signal that this aircraft is the industry’s new benchmark in the long-haul segment,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “We are convinced that the A350 XWB’s unbeatable economics and superior passenger comfort will be key contributors to Air Caraïbes” continued success.”

The A350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body) is an all-new mid-size long range product line comprising three versions and seating between 270 and 350 passengers in typical three-class layouts and up to 440 in eco-efficient leisure cabin. The new Family will bring a step change in efficiency compared with existing aircraft in this size category, using 25 per cent less fuel and providing an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions. Including this new firm order from Air Caraïbes, the A350 XWB has already won 817 firm orders from 37 customers worldwide.