A350 XWB flight-test development is progressing on track

In over 10 months since the A350 XWB’s first flight, Airbus has rapidly advanced through this next-generation jetliner’s development schedule with the first four flight-test aircraft now flying.

6 May 2014 Feature story

Thus far, these aircraft (manufacturer’s serial numbers MSN1, MSN2, MSN3 and MSN4) have already accumulated approximately 1,600 total flight hours in more than 350 test flights. In the coming weeks, MSN5 – the final flight test A350 XWB jetliner and second to be equipped with a cabin – will join its siblings in the lineup. 

Paving the way for the A350 XWB’s planned certification and subsequent fourth-quarter service entry with Qatar Airways this year, the flight-test programme is scheduled to last just over 12 months and accumulate approximately 2,500 flight hours, with specific duties assigned to each of Airbus’ five developmental A350 XWB aircraft: 

  • MSN1: Initial handling qualities; natural icing campaign; systems and powerplant testing.

  • MSN3: High altitude (in Bolivia) and cold weather (in Canada) testing; performance measurement; hot and cold weather campaigns; systems and powerplant testing.

  • MSN2: Cabin certification testing; early long flights; in-flight entertainment (IFE); cabin hot and cold tests, including the aircraft’s current visit to the McKinley Climatic Lab in Florida, USA.

  • MSN4: External noise and lightning tests; avionics development and certification; training for first customer pilot and maintenance teams.

  • MSN5: Cabin operability training; route-proving; ETOPS (Extended range Twin Operations) certification.