When the cornerstone member of Airbus’ new-generation A350 XWB Family – the A350-900 – entered commercial service earlier this year with Qatar Airways, it did so with an unprecedented maturity level thanks to the multi-functional, collaborative platform called Airline 1.
Launched on the widebody jetliner’s June 2013 maiden flight, Airbus’ Airline 1 mirrored airline-like operations and maintenance for each of the five A350 XWB flight test aircraft – incorporating all documentation and tools used by actual airlines, with the objective of reducing technical issues that typically surface after entry-to-service.
At the heart of Airline 1 is the Maintenance Control Centre (MCC), which followed all flight test aircraft in real time, performing actual aircraft data capture. In a flowing process, the next steps are planned while the preceding steps are still being implemented – securing all maintenance activities in due time.
Among the elements tested by Airline 1 are: technical documentation that is provided to airlines, various maintenance tools, the e-Ops interface between aircraft/airline ground facilities to manage flight operations/maintenance activities, and communications with the associated ground tools.
The A350 XWB programme is the first time this time-saving test method has been implemented. Its rapid set-up has been recognised by the top management of Airbus customers – who are enthusiastic about the concept, considering it a major change and a key enabler to secure their aircraft's route to maturity.
Due to its success, Airline 1 has continued to function after the A350-900 service entry by being connected with the customer airline tracking system AIRTAC. In addition, it will be used for development of the A350-1000 version, and is a candidate for application to all future aircraft programmes.