Nearly two years after the no. 1 A350 XWB’s maiden flight in 2013, a “first-of-its-kind” 1:20 scale model of this new-generation jetliner has joined the skies – the result of a project spurred by an aeronautical mechanic-in-training at Airbus.
The A350 XWB’s “smaller brother” performed its own inaugural flight from Hamburg-Finkenwerder Airport, which is home to one of Airbus’ major jetliner assembly facilities. The scale model was developed in a project inspired by Christoph Paff – the training mechanic who in 2011 heard that fellow Airbus apprentices wanted to build an A350 XWB model, but envisioned something more ambitious than what was being discussed.
"We work for a super company so we should try something grander: like an A350 XWB with a 3.20-metre wingspan and powered by jet engines,” Paff explained. The project planning ran from 2011 to mid-2012, with the A350 XWB scale model subsequently produced during more than 3,000 hours of work.
Paff was the “pilot” for the scale model’s first flight, remotely controlling this representative A350 XWB to manage the engine thrust, along with operation of the rudders, elevators, lights, flaps and other components. After lifting off, the scale model turned a few laps and then landed smoothly.
Commenting on the success, the head of vocational training at Airbus in Germany, Jan Balcke, said: "Everybody proved their willingness, commitment and staying power – which are essential prerequisites for leading such a project to success, and the result is great."