A350 XWB starts high-altitude testing

Airbus has begun the latest stage in the A350 XWB development program with the arrival of the third development aircraft, MSN3, in Bolivia for highaltitude testing.


A350 XWB starts high-altitude testing


Airbus has begun the latest stage in the A350 XWB development program with the arrival of the third development aircraft, MSN3, in Bolivia for highaltitude testing. MSN3 will perform a series of tests at the high altitude airfields of Cochabamba and La Paz. Cochabamba is around 8,300 feet above sea level, while La Paz is one of the world’s highest airports at 13,300 feet.

Operations from such high-altitude runways are particularly demanding on aircraft engines, auxiliary power units (APU) and associated systems. Airbus said the trials will aim to demonstrate and validate the full functionality of engines, systems and materials under these extreme conditions, as well as assess overall aircraft behavior.

A series of take-offs—including some with simulated engine failures—will be performed at both airfields to collect data on engine operating characteristics and validate the type’s take-off performance. Autopilot behavior will also be evaluated during automatic landings and go-arounds.

More than 800 flight hours have now been logged by development aircraft MSN1 and MSN3 in almost 200 test flights since MSN1 conducted the A350 XWB’s first flight on June 14 last year. The type’s flight test campaign will eventually accumulate around 2,500 flight hours with a fleet of five aircraft.