It's 6:30a.m. on June 4th., at Toulouse Blagnac airport and flight Airbus 28CF is approaching. This is actually the second and final flight test of the A-350 XWB long-haul with passengers. The first took place during the day, early in the week and lasted seven hours. Today's was a 12-hour night flight. 252 people were on board, for the most part they were Airbus employees involved in the programme, but there was also a contingent of thirty sub-contractors responsible for various equipment inside the cabin, such as the seats or in-flight entertainment system. During the boarding there was a joyful atmosphere.
A350 XWB Passenger:
"As soon as boarding began, the lucky people's names who were to go into Business Class were not known until the last minute, because they were drawn out of a hat, so when they were called, there was a little booing from those not so fortunate just to set the tone. There was already a certain ambiance before boarding. And as soon as the fasten your seatbelt sign went off, we soon began to move around the 'plane, and so at some point the crew asked us to ''please be a little reasonable'', we knew this was an exceptional flight, but in terms of safety perhaps we did get a little out of hand. There may have been more than half the people who were out of their seats wanting to see everything, and discussing, so we were rightly called to order a bit."
During this Toulouse-Toulouse flight, the 'plane circled over Europe. The passengers, in fact had a mission, to test the cabin under the operating conditions of a typical flight. This type of flight, although not required to obtain certification of the aircraft, can however, pick up anomalies to be rectified before the first deliveries to customers; and the verdict ?
A350 XWB Passengers:
-"I've been testing as a regular passenger, the level of comfort, lighting, all the service associated, the lavatories, how they ... the quality of the food, I mean the food temperature and so on - nothing didn't work."
-"Personally I found that in the toilet there are several mirrors for example, one or two could be adjustable so that you could see yourself better, but any other improvements would be really minimal. Concerning quality and safety in the air, it's really an amazing aircraft."
-"As far as I can see, it's a mature aircraft, the actual cabin is very spacious, the ceiling seems very high, it's obviously a much wider aircraft as well, you can move around the cabin very easily. From a noise point of view, yep, it's great, from take-off to landing it was extremely quiet."
All that remains for the certification of the A-350 now, is to carry out a few endurance flights around the planet, which should take place during the summer; bearing in mind that first delivery to Qatar Airways is expected by the end of the year. To date, the A-350 XWB has recorded 812 firm orders from 39 client companies.