The Airbus A350-1000 made its maiden flight yesterday. The A350-1000, the longest and largest of the three A350 XWB base models, took off from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, France, and flew for four-hours and 18-minutes, above southwestern France before touching back down at 3:00 pm.
A crew of six explored the aircraft's handling and its flight envelope, the ways in which it can combine capabilities like speed, altitude and angle-of-attack while remaining safe. It was accompanied by a chase plane from which the testing was observed and filmed and a team of experts on the ground also monitored the flight via a live telemetry link.
The A350-1000 measures nearly 74 m (243 ft) from nose to tail, allowing it to accommodate 40 more passengers than the smaller A350-900. Airbus says a typical three-class configuration can accommodate 366 passengers, or a higher density configuration up to 440.
President and CEO of Airbus Fabrice Brégier describes the A350-1000 as "the world's most modern and efficient passenger aircraft." It is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 turbofan engines, the most powerful engine ever developed for an Airbus aircraft, that allow for increased payload capability, deliver 97,000 lb (431,477 N) of takeoff thrust and provide a range of 7,950 nautical miles (9,149 mi/14,723 km).
The aircraft used for the maiden flight, MSN059, is one of three A350-1000s developed for testing. Its remit, going forward, will be for evaluating flight envelope, handling qualities, loads and braking.
The two remaining test aircraft are set to take to the skies in under a year, with the second (MSN071) used to evaluate braking, powerplant, systems and autopilot and the third (MSN065) used to evaluate cabin and air systems. MSN065 will also be used for evaluating the aircraft's maturity for long distance flights and for route-proving, or testing in typical flight situations.
The A350 XWB (extra wide body) family is designed for efficiency and to provide extra space for passengers on medium- to long-haul flights. A shorter test program is expected for the A350-1000 than the A350-900 as a result of Airbus' experience testing the latter, which first flew in 2013.
The A350-1000 is scheduled to go into operation during the second half of next year. Its first operator will be Qatar Airways, which also has the highest number of A350-1000s on order, 37, of any operator.
The video below shows the maiden flight of the A350-1000.