On its trial program Airbus’s latest product, an A350 prototype came to Frankfurt last weekend, warmly welcomed by many spectators. The visit is part of a test series consisting of four different trips across the globe that are designed to demonstrate the aircraft’s readiness for airline operations and will include high airfield performance, auto-landing trials, and airport turnaround and handling services.
The large Rhine-Main airport has been included in many test programs initiated by aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing. The landing of MSN 005 last Friday evening however, was something
special since Frankfurt was the first European Airport, outside of Toulouse that has welcomed the aircraft, where the European plane maker’s newest flagship is assembled. A large number of
aviation enthusiasts and media people came to the airport to be right on the spot to become an eye-witness of the very first arrival of this new addition to the Airbus family at Rhine-Main.
Unlike other experimental aircraft that are stuffed with instruments and measuring devices to gain as much data as possible, the MSN 005 at first sight resembled a normal passenger plane with their 42 business and 223 eco sets filling the cabin. “But don’t be mistaken, the plane is full of all sorts of technique to record all operational processes from A to Z,” assured an Airbus official.
Tightly scheduled test series
The trial program consists of a series of four trips to destinations located at very different climatic zones across the globe.
The first flight took the experimental A350 from Toulouse via the North Pole to Iqaluit (formerly Frobisher Bay) in the arctic Canadian territory of Nunavut, from there to Frankfurt and – last Saturday – back to Toulouse.
Asia stands next on the itinerary, with multiple stops in Hong Kong and Singapore. Trip three takes the A350 XWB to Johannesburg and Sydney, and further on to Auckland, Santiago de Chile and Sao Paulo from where it returns to its home base Toulouse. Finally, the three week trial program will be concluded with landings in Doha, Perth, Moscow and Helsinki. Some of these flights will have passengers on board to test the full service aspect on board.
After a successful conclusion of this program, Airbus expects to obtain the mandated Type Certification by the Aviation Authorities sometime during the upcoming 3rd quarter. Launching customer is Qatar Airways that expects its first A350 to be delivered towards the end of this year.
Cargo friendly family members
Airbus offers customers three passenger variants of its new A350 XWB family - A350-800, -900 and -1000, with the latter entering service not before 2017. All three are cargo friendly aircraft which is shown by the 36 LD3 containers the plane maker’s cornerstone family member A350-900 can accommodate in its holds during each flight. That amounts to a volume of 154 cubic meters of uplift capacity.
Although officially not yet certified, the A350 series is well on its way to become a bestseller. Currently, 38 airlines from around the world have placed impressive 742 orders for the upcoming A350 family.
These figures were of minor interest for the Frankfurt spectators. They just enjoyed taking a first glance at the elegantly shaped design of the craft.