The A350 XWB’s new engine – the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB – has successfully made its maiden flight aboard Airbus’ dedicated A380 “Flying-Test-Bed” aircraft. The aircraft took off from Airbus facilities in Toulouse and performed a flight of more than five hours during which the engine covered a wide range of power settings at altitudes up to 43,000ft. The aircraft handling qualities were evaluated from low speeds to Mach 0.9. The engine not only operated flawlessly, but also demonstrated its new-generation fuel efficiency and low noise.
The Trent XWB development engine, specially fitted with test sensors to measure hundreds of parameters, was mounted on the A380’s inner left engine pylon, replacing one of the aircraft’s Trent 900 engines. The crew on board this first flight were: Airbus Experimental test pilots Terry Lutz and Frank Chapman; Experimental Test Flight Engineer Pascal Verneau; and Flight Test Engineers Emanuele Costanzo and Tuan Do.
“The A350 XWB’s engine performed excellently during its first flight-test, just as we expected,” said Charles Champion, Executive Vice President of Engineering at Airbus. “This is a promising start to the Trent XWB’s flight-test programme which will ensure a thorough real-life testing of the engine, nacelle and its systems.” He adds: “This will allow for a high level of powerplant integration, maturity and reliability to be achieved by the time it flies on the first A350 XWB aircraft.”
Commencing around one year prior to the A350 XWB’s first flight, this engine flight-test programme is scheduled to accumulate around 175 flight hours – some three times more airborne flying hours than on previous programmes. This will be accomplished over a seven month period and will include hot weather as well as icing condition testing campaigns. It will also test the advanced nacelle and thrust reverser system provided by Goodrich.
The overall objective of these flight-tests is the early and systematic validation of all performance aspects of the engine and also the associated systems. In turn, this will contribute to significantly ‘de-risking’ the A350 XWB’s development well ahead of entry-into-service. The first results of this flight-test campaign are expected this summer.
Airbus is the world’s leading commercial aircraft manufacturer producing the most modern and efficient airliners from 100 seats to over 500. Airbus has design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain as well as subsidiaries in the US, China, Japan and in the Middle East. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS company.