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Airbus prepares first (test) flight of composite airliner

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06-07-2013, 07:11 PM
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LadyStanley
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Airbus prepares first (test) flight of composite airliner

http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/06...-first-flight/

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Now that the Airbus A350-XWB has moved under its own power, albeit at a walking pace, there is mounting anticipation to see the composite airliner make its inaugural flight.

The European aviation giant is keeping mum on when the A350 might take to the air for the first time, but the Paris Air Show begins in little more than a week. That’s got everyone in the aerospace industry wondering if the A350-XWB will make an appearance above one of the biggest stages in aviation. The company’s chief rival, Boeing, will be performing at the airshow with the composite 787 Dreamliner, so it’s hard to see Airbus letting Boeing take the limelight at the industry’s most important event.

The new A350-XWB was recently hauled out of the paint hangar and this week fired up its engines and started the first stages of testing with some slow taxiing near the factory. More slow taxi tests were completed today, and higher speed tests are expected in coming days. Many expect an inaugural flight shortly thereafter. Further teasing aviation buffs, the company trotted out the six members of its flight test team to explain what will happen when the A350-XWB takes off.

“We are at a high level of readiness and quality,” Didier Evrard, who leads the A350 program, told reporters gathered in Toulouse, France. “We have reached a level of maturity that is comparable to entry into service in past programs.”

The test pilots said the prototype A350-XWB, MSN001, will be loaded and flown at the “middle of the envelope” with regard to weight, speed and other parameters. Flying under conservative flight conditions is typical for a first flight.
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While it is assumed the first flight will likely happen before the Paris Air Show begins on June 17, it is still not known whether or not Airbus will make a fly-by for those gathered at the Le Bourget airport where Charles Lindbergh touched down in 1927. The flight test team says everything will have to go smoothly on the first flight, and even then the authorities would have to grant permission for the test aircraft to fly over the show.

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06-17-2013, 06:28 PM
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First flight was 6/14. Big splash at Paris Air Show.

(Watching NBR for the news)

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