A ground-based simulator helped Airbus pilots prepare for the jetliner’s maiden in-flight evaluation

When the A330neo jetliner takes to the skies for the first time, its crew will have put this new jetliner through its paces using a ground-based simulator for “virtual” flights during the past several months.

The simulator, designated SX1 and located at Airbus’ headquarters facilities in the Toulouse area of southwest France, has been operated by the A330neo flight crews at least once a week during much of 2017 – accurately recreating as many aspects of flight as possible, including treating the “aircraft” just as a real-world airline would.

Configured initially to represent the original A330ceo version some 20 years ago, SX1 has been largely updated by taking the A330neo configuration into account, including its new engines and new aerodynamics, along with the updated flight control, flight guidance and power management systems.

Led by Airbus Commercial Aircraft simulator manager Régis Guimier, the team worked closely with design office personnel and flight test crews as well as multiple engineering domains for a simulator configuration compliant with the A330neo systems.

A key milestone for the project took place earlier this month when the crew for the real A330neo first flight performed a final session in preparation for the maiden take-off. “It’s all part of giving the crew the information they need in preparing for a challenging flight test campaign schedule,” explained Caroline Vigier, a simulator test engineer.

“As the simulator enables flight crews to become familiar with the aircraft and its systems, we can rapidly open the flight domain once actual flight tests begin,” Vigier added.