4 MARCH 2013
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The first A350 XWB – MSN001 – now showing its completed wings, has moved on to its next phase of ground testing. It is structurally complete and shows the installed winglets, belly fairing panels, main landing gear doors.
The aircraft has recently completed successfully a series of indoor ground tests including stability tests on ‘movable’ elements such as rudder, elevators, ailerons and wing spoilers and landing gears extraction/retraction. The next steps which will take place outdoors will include three planned families of trials: Fuel tanks testing – including levels, flows, sealing and internal fuel transfer functions; pressure testing of the fuselage; and radio equipment testing.
Whether it will make its maiden flight in time for the Paris Air Show remains a guessing game. In times past ‘yes’ but engineers and pilots are much more cautious in the 20th century and a Le Bourget fly-pass looks more and more unlikely. The flight test programme will be undertaken with lithium-ion battery systems although Airbus says it is reverting to the traditional nickel cadmium.
In the meantime the aircraft continues to sell with the firm order book standing at 617 (as against the Boeing Dreamliner figure of 890. www.airbus.com Please also see www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21611267
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