A350 XWB flight test teams are carrying out last checks on the aircraft before they give their final green light for the first flight to take place this Friday. Recent pre-first flight tests include the first power up of its Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines on June 2.
Scheduled to enter service in the second half of 2014, the A350 XWB has to date 613 firm orders from 33 customers worldwide.
International journalists were briefed last week on the A350 at Airbus’s Toulouse facility and were shown the aircraft. Airbus has never given a definite date for the first flight, saying only that it would take place in mid-summer.
A350 XWB project test pilot Frank Chapman said last week that testing and simulations leading up to first flight gave him “great confidence” in the aircraft. “It is often said that if an airplane looks right, it flies right. And boy, does this aircraft look right,” he said.
Today’s announcement of the first flight will raise hopes that the A350 could do a flyby during the Paris Air Show, which opens June 17 and runs through next week. Boeing has announced that the rival 787 Dreamliner will participate daily in the flying display.
However,Chapman said last week it is a requirement of air show authorities that pilots must be validated before the show to participate in the flying display, making timelines very tight. Chapman added that Airbus would also “be remiss as a company” to do a flyby if it were not totally happy about doing so.