MIAMI — Airbus’ A350 XWB passenger jet has completed its round-the-world tour, the company said on Wednesday, as part of a number of route proving trials.
The A350-900 test plane, dubbed MSN005, began its 81,700 nautical mile, 180-flight-hour adventure on July 24. The journey saw it visit fourteen cities on six continents, including Auckland, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Johannesburg, Doha, Moscow, Helsinki, Perth, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore, and Iqualuit. The destinations were split up between five individual trips, each beginning and ending in the airplane’s home-city of Toulouse, France.
Airbus pilots as well as flight crews from regulatory authorities and Qatar Airways took the controls during the trip.
The company reports the airplane performed as expected.
New aircraft are required to run such trials to satisfy regulators that it can safely operate certain routes, such as long-haul ETOPS routes like Johannesburg to Sydney and Auckland to Santiago. But the trips are also meant to work out kinks and compatibility issues with airports.
The tests are generally the last major steps undertaken ahead of achieving a type certification. Indeed, Airbus expects the airplane to receive the green-light in the third quarter, already underway.
The first airplane is expected to be delivered late this year to launch customer Qatar Airways.