The first Airbus A350-1000 F-WMIL (MSN059) took off from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France, at 1042hrs on November 24.
British test pilot Frank Chapman was joined on the flight deck for the 4hr 18min maiden flight by fellow test pilot Hugues van der Stichel and test flight engineer Gérard Maisonneuve.
As well as having a longer fuselage to accommodate 40 more passengers than the A350-900, the A350-1000 also features a modified wing trailing-edge, new six-wheel main landing gears and more powerful Rolls- Royce Trent XWB-97 engines.
It is Airbus’ largest and most powerful twin-engine airliner and the company claims it is the world’s most fuel-efficient large widebody. Airbus, benefiting from the experience of the original A350-900 test campaign (accomplished in 2014), said the A350-1000’s development programme will be shorter – under one year for the three aircraft.
MSN059’s duties for performance testing will include exploration of the flight envelope, handling qualities, loads and braking. The second aircraft to fly, MSN071, will also be tasked with performance evaluation, which will encompass braking, powerplant, systems and autopilot. The third and final aircraft to fly, MSN065, will be equipped with a cabin and will evaluate the cabin and air systems. The third aircraft will also perform the “early long flights” and route-proving.
The overall campaign will culminate in the type’s certification followed by its entry into airline service in the second half of 2017 with first operator Qatar Airways, the largest A350- 1000 customer to date, with 37 on order.