The world’s aviation sector moved to the rhythm of Airbus’ A350 XWB today as this new-generation jetliner performed its first flight – viewed by thousands of company employees, industry executives and aircraft enthusiasts at Toulouse, France, and followed on the Internet by a global audience.
Beginning its takeoff roll exactly on time at 10:00 a.m., the no. 1 A350 XWB smoothly rotated and climbed away from Runway 32L at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, ascending through scattered clouds as it was accompanied by a photo chase aircraft.
Operating on maximum takeoff power of its two Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, the A350 XWB demonstrated the aircraft’s low external noise levels and excellent handling conditions from its first moments in the air.
“The A350 XWB is fantastic and impressive,” said John Leahy moments after the historic takeoff. “Did you hear how quiet it was? We’re going to set new standards with the A350 XWB – not just for comfort and performance, but for environmental friendliness as well.”
Airbus employees welcomed the newest member of the company’s jetliner family by turning out in large numbers at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport – many waving flags with the message: “A350 XWB first flight – We did it!”
Additionally, more than 50,000 visitors watched the A350 XWB’s takeoff on the airbus.com website, which delivered on-line streaming that also included real-time air-to-air video. This coverage enabled viewers to share the experience as the aircraft went airborne for the first time, and subsequently provided real-time views during such key moments as the first landing gear retraction and certain handling qualities evaluations.
Video of the first flight was provided on Airbus’ You Tube channel, and comments were posted on Twitter using the #A350firstflight hashtag.
While airborne, the A350 XWB was clearly identifiable by the extra widebody fuselage cross-section, its distinctive wrap-around windshield and streamlined nose profile, along with the tapered wings – a result of Airbus’ advanced aerodynamic design. To further distinguish the new aircraft, it carries the A350 XWB designation – complete with the stylized logo – in large letters on its fuselage centerline.
In completing its 4-hour, 5-minute maiden mission, the A350 XWB performed a flyby of Toulouse-Blagnac Airport before landing on Runway 32L to applause and cheers.
The A350 XWB that flew today is designated MSN1, and is an A350-900 version. This is the mid-family member of the A350 XWB Family, with the -900 to accommodate 314 passengers in a typical three-class configuration. The longer-fuselage A350-1000 version seats 350, while the shortest – the A350-800 – has a capacity of 270 passengers.
A total of five aircraft will participate in the A350-900’s 2,500-flight hour test and certification programme in support of this first A350 XWB version to enter airline service.