[Avionics Today 09-30-2014] Airbus has received type certification for its A350-900 wide body passenger jet from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The EASA approval clears Airbus for delivery of the first A350 before the end of the year to launch customer Qatar Airways.
Approval was issued following an extensive certification process, featuring five test aircraft accumulating more than 2,600 flight test hours. Airbus said the A350-900 coming off production lines is now about three tons heavier than its initial projection, which required the French airframe manufacturer to seek approval for a higher maximum takeoff weight. The first A350-900 will carry 315 passengers with a range of 7,750 nautical miles, EASA said.
"We dealt with a very mature aircraft. Airbus and EASA have [learned] from experience and have established pragmatic working methods which have proved to be the recipe for the successful type certification and the way forward for future certification programs," said Patrick Ky, EASA's executive director.
The next generation aircraft from Airbus will enter service boasting some cutting edge avionics power in the cockpit from some of the industry's biggest names. Honeywell supplies the A350's Flight Management System (FMS) and the Airbus Aircraft Environment Surveillance System, integrating the company's Traffic Collision Avoidance System, Mode S Transponders, the Weather Radar and the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System modules into one system, reducing as many as eight avionics boxes down to two. These technologies will enable pilots to take advantage of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast In (ADS-B In) and airborne traffic situational awareness capabilities.
Thales supplies the interactive control and display system, Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) and a new navigation system with an Air Data Inertial Reference Unit (ADIRU) to define the position of the aircraft. Whereas previous Airbus platforms have calculated aircraft position based on data from different systems, the A350's position is defined by a single system. Combined with the FMS and the Onboard Airport Navigation System (OANS), these new technologies will allow operators to use new Single European Sky (SES) flight procedures such as 4-D trajectories once they become available, according to Thales.
All of the A350's systems and aircraft structural components were pushed to "extreme limits" throughout the certification process, according to Airbus Head of Development Flight Tests Patrick Du Che.
"We push the plane to its limits or near to its extreme limits. What I mean by extreme is, for example, the maximum speed that the airplane can handle. It's the same with aircraft stall. We also take the aircraft to very cold climates or to very hot weather conditions," said Du Che. "We carry out what are sometimes called very demanding structural tests in conditions that the aircraft will never face during commercial service."
Airbus is expecting the lengthy certification process to be well worth the wait of entering the first A350-900 into service. The company's recently released global market forecast projects demand for 9,300 long-range aircraft over the next 20 years at a value of $2.5 trillion, about 55 percent of the projected overall global demand for 31,400 new passenger jets worth $4.6 trillion through 2033. Currently, the backlog for the A350 includes 750 orders from 39 different customers worldwide.
“Receiving the A350-900 Type Certification from EASA is a great achievement for Airbus and for all our partners who have contributed to designing, building and certificating this fantastic, new generation aircraft. The A350-900 is now ready to fly from the nest and be enjoyed by airlines and passengers,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus president and CEO.