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Friday, June 14, 2013

Airbus Completes A350 XWB Maiden Flight

By Woodrow Bellamy III

Airbus completed the maiden flight on Friday with its new twin-engine wide-body aircraft, the A350 XWB. The first flight was completed about two weeks ahead of the airframe manufacturer's deadline, lasting four hours before landing at France's Toulouse-Blagnac Airport. 
 
 
(Airbus A350 XWB makes maiden flight. Photo, courtesy of Airbus.)
 
The maiden flight begins a year-long flight test campaign involving five A350s, as Airbus looks to prepare to enter the new aircraft into service next year. 
 
The A350 integrates "the latest available technologies, is now entering the final stage of its development.  And it is ready. Ready to head towards certification and entry-into-service in the second half of next year," said Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier. 
 
Flight test engineers also had a chance to evaluate the in-flight performance of the A350's avionics data communications network, AFDX, supplied by Rockwell Collins. This includes a new airborne hosting platform for flight operations, which hosts aircraft maintenance and airline applications data on an electronic flight bag, giving pilots real-time access to all the flight data they require.
 
"This platform is especially important to our company since we’ve been given the opportunity to lead integration activities that introduce a new level of trust between Rockwell Collins and Airbus," said Kent Statler, vice president of commercial systems at Rockwell Collins. 
 
In addition to supplying the avionics, Rockwell Collins also provided the rudder/brake pedal assembly for the new aircraft.
 
The first flight was conducted three days prior to the beginning of the 2013 Paris Air Show, as Airbus looks to build excitement around its new plane, which is a competitor to rival Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.
 
Airbus has confirmed 613 orders for its new A350 family from more than 30 customers worldwide. Qatar Airways has been confirmed as the A350 launch customer. 
 
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