A350-900 testing and certification
The cornerstone member of Airbus’ A350 XWB product line – the A350-900 version – entered commercial service with launch customer Qatar Airways in January 2015. To ensure reliability from the start, it was subjected to one of the most thorough test and certification programmes ever developed for a jetliner.
Lasting just over 14 months, which is an industry record, the A350-900 flight test and certification programme comprised a five-aircraft fleet which performed over 2,600 flight hours in total. During this campaign, Airbus successfully completed the certification trials which took the airframe and its systems beyond their design limits to ensure airworthiness criteria are fully met. It concluded with Type Certification received by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in September and November 2014, respectively.
As an example of “going the extra mile” in this campaign, Airbus developed its own “airline” – designated Airline 1 – to evaluate the A350 XWB in typical operating conditions. The simulated airline experience comprised a dedicated staff operating a hangar and maintenance control centre in coordination with Airbus’ flight-test team – allowing for daily maintenance, support and repair operations for the five-aircraft A350 XWB test fleet.
Another aspect of the company’s campaign was the Early Long Flights performed in June 2014. Consisting of two missions with selected Airbus employees as “passengers,” these flights were operated by actual airline crews from Air France and Lufthansa – allowing Airbus to assess the cabin environment and systems in settings that represented a normal commercial transport.
Further underscoring the A350 XWB’s readiness for commercial service was the Route Proving World Tour, during which the new-generation jetliner visited 14 cities – Iqaluit, Canada; Frankfurt, Germany; Hong Kong; Singapore; Johannesburg, South Africa; Sydney, Australia; Auckland, New Zealand; Santiago de Chile; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Doha, Qatar; Perth, Australia; Moscow, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Toulouse, France – over a three-week period in July-August 2014.
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Did you know?
- More than half of the A350 XWB is made up of carbon-fibre material
- The A350 XWB’s full-LED lighting systems can project over 16.7 million different colours, plus an infinite number of colour combinations
- The overall wing area of Airbus’ A350 XWB covers more space than two tennis courts
- Inspired by birds, the A350 XWB’s wings have been designed to adapt during flight, morphing while airborne and changing their shape to reduce fuel burn
- The A350 XWB is the first aircraft to “wear sunglasses,” referring to this jetliner’s distinctive cockpit windows
- The diameter of the A350 XWB Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine is equivalent to that of the famed Concorde supersonic airliner’s fuselage