Shaking things up: Airbus speeds up ground vibration testing for the A350-1000

Courtesy: Airbus.

An optimised method for the ground vibration testing of Airbus jetliners has reduced this validation phase for the A350 XWB’s stretched-fuselage A350-1000 version, and will now be used for the next new widebody aircraft: the A330neo (New Engine Option).

Ground vibration testing is performed to measure the aircraft’s dynamic behaviour, confirming theoretical models of various flight conditions, such as manoeuvring, flying in gusty conditions and during landing touchdowns. In addition to being part of the “go” decision for a new jetliner taking to the skies for the first time, the test data helps clear an aircraft’s flight domain and is required for type certification by airworthiness authorities.

As the A350-1000 is a derivative of the A350-900 (which underwent a ground vibration test programme for its own type certification, issued last November), a multifunctional Airbus Commercial Aircraft team was set up to shorten and simplify the process.

The A350-1000’s testing was performed over a two-day period, compared to nine days for the A350-900, and the more than one month required for previous Airbus jetliners. “We brought together people from different domains,” explained Nicolas Lastère, a Flight Physics engineer in the Loads and Aeroelastics department at Airbus Commercial Aircraft. “The feedback and our results are a clear demonstration that different functions can work well together.”

Based on the streamlined ground vibration testing’s success for the A350-1000, the method will now also be used for the A330neo – which is scheduled to perform its initial take-off in the first half of 2017.

Source: Airbus.

Development milestone: Integration begins for Airbus’ next-generation Beluga XL

Courtesy: Airbus.

Airbus’ next-generation oversize cargo airlifter is transitioning from concept to reality as the first Beluga XL core airframe starts its 18-month integration process at the company’s production facilities in Toulouse, France.

The core airframe is an extract of an Airbus A330-200 freighter that already has been structurally reinforced, providing the platform on which the Beluga XL airframe will be built. This element was assembled in December without a nose fuselage or tail assembly – both of which will be added during activity planned in 2017.

Integration of the Beluga XL core airframe will be performed inside the two-section L34 building at Airbus’ Lagardère industrial zone, which is adjacent to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.

For the first 12 months of the assembly activity, the airframe will be completed and its mechanical and electrical systems will be fitted at an integration station. For the remaining six months, the aircraft will move to a second station for ground testing and engine installation.

“The coming year of final integration will be a series of small steps,” said Beluga XL programme head Bertrand George. “The number of holes to be drilled and fasteners to be installed is far bigger than on any other Airbus aircraft. Sticking to schedule at each step is the key to being ready for first flight in 2018. I fully trust the capability of our teams to make it happen together.”

Based on the airframe of the versatile A330 jetliner, a total of five Beluga XL airlifters are to be built, with the first to enter operational service in 2019. They will gradually replace the existing fleet of Beluga ST aircraft, which were derived from the shorter-fuselage A300.

Once the first Beluga XL enters service, it will provide crucial support to Airbus’ production ramp-up from day one thanks to its ability to carry a full set of A350 XWB wings.

Source: Airbus.

Lufthansa A350-900 successfully takes off on maiden flight

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

The latest Lufthansa fleet aircraft has completed its maiden flight to Munich around three weeks before delivery. The Lufthansa Airbus A350-900 took off on its first flight in Toulouse but without passengers. An international Airbus crew tested the on-board systems and the behavior of the aircraft during all flight stages.

The Lufthansa Group will receive the first of ten A350-900 on 19 December 2016 and will start its scheduled service between Munich and Delhi on 10 February 2017. The world’s most modern long-range aircraft is an investment into the future: It reduces emissions by 25 percent and is significantly quieter during take-off than comparable aircraft types.

Source: Deutsche Lufthansa.

First Airbus A350-1000 successfully completes first flight

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

The first of three A350-1000 development aircraft to fly – MSN059 – has landed at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport France at 15.00hrs local time after successfully completing its first flight which lasted four hours and 18 minutes.

The crew in the cockpit on board this flight comprised: Hugues van der Stichel, Experimental Test Pilot; Frank Chapman, Experimental Test Pilot and Gérard Maisonneuve, Test-Flight Engineer. Furthermore, monitoring all the test parameters at the Flight-Test-Instrumentation (FTI) station behind the cockpit were: Patrick du Ché, Head of Flight & Integration Tests; Emanuele Costanzo, Head of A350 Development Flight Tests; and Stéphane Vaux, Flight-Test Engineer.

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

Powered by Rolls-Royce’s new Trent XWB-97 engines, the aircraft traversed south-western France, during which the crew explored the aircraft’s handling and flight envelope. The aircraft was accompanied by a chase plane to observe and film the various manoeuvres. Its progress was monitored by experts on the ground in real-time via a direct telemetry link.

Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier said: “We have seen today the world’s most modern and efficient passenger aircraft – the A350-1000 – in action for the very first time, adding soon to the successful A350 Family. My congratulations and thanks go to all the teams who have contributed to make today’s flight happen.” He added: “We are equally pleased that many customers have witnessed this important milestone today together with us – here from our headquarters in Toulouse.”

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

Benefitting from the experience of the original A350-900 test campaign (accomplished in 2014), the A350-1000’s development programme will be shorter – under one year for the three aircraft. MSN059’s duties for performance testing will include exploration of the flight envelope, handling qualities, loads and braking. The second aircraft to fly, MSN071, will also be tasked with performance evaluation, which will encompass braking, powerplant, systems and autopilot. The third and final aircraft to fly – MSN065 – will be equipped with a cabin and will evaluate the cabin and air systems. MSN065 will also perform the “early long flights” and route-proving. The overall campaign will culminate in the type’s certification followed by its entry into airline service in the second half of 2017 with first operator Qatar Airways – the largest A350-1000 customer to date with 37 on order.

The A350-1000 is the latest member of the Airbus leading widebody family, together with the A330neo, offering unprecedented levels of operating efficiency, low noise and true long-range capability. As well as having a longer fuselage to accommodate 40 more passengers than the A350-900, the A350-1000 also features a modified wing trailing-edge, new six-wheel main landing gears and more powerful Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines. The A350-1000 embodies all of the fuel efficiency and ‘Airspace’ cabin comfort of the original A350-900 – but with extra size perfectly tailored for our customers on some of their busiest long-haul routes. To date 11 customers from five continents have placed orders for a total of 195 A350-1000s.

Source: Airbus.

Airbus celebrates the delivery of its 10,000th aircraft

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

Airbus today celebrated the delivery of its 10,000th aircraft – an A350-900 for Singapore Airlines. The milestone event was marked by a special ceremony in Toulouse hosted by Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders and attended by Goh Choon Phong, CEO of Singapore Airlines.

The aircraft delivered today is the sixth A350-900 for Singapore Airlines, out of a total order for 67. Featuring a special “10,000th Airbus” logo, the aircraft will be used to launch the airline’s new non-stop services between Singapore and San Francisco later this month.

The 10,000th Airbus delivery comes as the manufacturer achieves its highest level of production ever and is on track to deliver at least 650 aircraft this year from its extensive product line. These range from 100 to over 600 seats and efficiently meet every airline requirement, from high frequency short haul operations to the world’s longest intercontinental flights.

“Since our earliest days innovation has been at the heart of everything we do at Airbus,” said Tom Enders, Airbus Group CEO. “This has seen us develop what is today the world’s most modern and comprehensive aircraft family. And with a strong emphasis on R&T, continuous innovation and product improvement, we will ensure that we remain ahead of the curve, delivering airlines the best our industry has to offer.”

“We are especially proud to celebrate this milestone with Singapore Airlines – one of our longest standing customers and a true partner. Today, the SIA Group operates aircraft from across our complete product line and with the highest levels of technical excellence. There is no better endorsement for our products and we thank the entire SIA Group for its ongoing confidence, partnership and support.”

“Singapore Airlines is honoured to be receiving the 10,000th aircraft that Airbus has delivered. Airbus aircraft have contributed greatly to Singapore Airlines’ successes over the decades, and we are proud to be sharing this important milestone with our longstanding and trusted partner,” said Goh Choon Phong, CEO of Singapore Airlines. “Today’s delivery shows just how far Airbus has come over the decades. On behalf of the staff and management of Singapore Airlines, I would like to congratulate Airbus for reaching this incredible milestone.”

Singapore Airlines placed its first order with Airbus in 1979 and over the years the carrier and its subsidiaries have ordered every successive model produced by the manufacturer. Today the mainline carrier operates the A330, A350 XWB and A380, while its regional subsidiaries Silkair and Tigerair fly aircraft from the single aisle A320 Family.

Airbus delivered its first aircraft, an A300B2, to Air France on 10 May 1974. Initially working exclusively in the widebody sector with the A300 and A310, the manufacturer moved into the single aisle market in the mid-1980s with the launch of the best-selling A320. Setting new standards in aircraft design, technologies introduced on the A320 were subsequently incorporated on the A330 and A340 in the early 1990s, marking the first time that single aisle and widebody aircraft benefitted from similar operational characteristics.

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

This high level of design commonality is unique to Airbus aircraft types and has been retained across the company’s product line ever since, including on the double deck A380 and the all-new long range A350 XWB which entered service last year.

Through the company’s process of continuous product improvement, the Airbus product line has been regularly enhanced over the years with each subsequent development bringing significant benefits in terms of fuel efficiency, operational reliability and passenger comfort. In recent years this has recently seen the company invest in the A320neo Family, which entered commercial service this year, and the A330neo Family, currently in development and with first delivery planned for the end of 2017.

Also under advanced stage of development is the second version of the all-new A350 XWB, the A350-1000, which is set for first flight before year end and first delivery in the second half of 2017. Together, the members of the A350 XWB Family are redefining long haul travel in the larger twin aisle market, consuming 25 per cent less fuel and bringing new levels of passenger comfort, with more personal space in all classes.

The current Airbus product line comprises a total of 16 models spread across four aircraft Families – the A320, A330, A350 XWB and A380.

Airbus has recorded over 16,700 orders for its various models and its aircraft are flying today with more than 400 airlines worldwide. The company’s backlog of 6,700 aircraft on order for future delivery is the highest ever recorded by any aircraft manufacturer and represents some 10 years of full production at current rates.

Source: Airbus.

The first A350-900 in Lufthansa colours

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

The Lufthansa Airbus was in the so-called “paint shop” in the Airbus plant in Toulouse for eleven days, and then the moment arrived – the first A350-900 with white Lufthansa paint and blue lettering was ready to go. 30 people worked on the task, painting a total surface area of around 2,100 square meters. This is the first time that the official identification code D-AIXA has been seen. The use of an “X” follows in the style of the Airbus designation “A350 XWB” (extra wide body) – the cabin width of the A350-900 measures a generous 5.6 meters and gives passengers a great feeling of space.

The first ten Lufthansa Airbus A350-900 aircraft will be stationed in Munich for the coming winter. Delhi and Boston will be the first destinations to be served. The plane has space for 293 passengers – 48 in Business Class, 21 in Premium Economy and 224 in Economy Class. The A350-900 is the most modern and the most environmentally friendly long-haul aircraft in service world-wide. In comparison with similar types of aircraft, it uses 25 percent less kerosene and produces 25 percent fewer emissions, and the noise “footprint” produced by the A350-900 is up to 50 percent smaller.

Source: Deutsche Lufthansa.

First Airbus A330neo starts its final assembly in Toulouse

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

Airbus has commenced the final assembly of its first A330neo, an A330-900, at its Final Assembly Line in Toulouse with the joining of the wings to the centre fuselage at station 40.

As the newest member of the world’s most popular A330 wide-body family the A330neo builds on the Family’s proven economics, versatility and reliability, set to reduce fuel consumption by a further 14 per cent per seat. Both the A330-800 and A330-900 feature a new A350-inspired wing with Sharklet wingtip devices for state-of-the-art aerodynamics, incorporating latest-generation Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, and the new AirSpace by Airbus cabin for the latest experience in cabin comfort.

“We have started with a very tight development schedule and are today right on time,” says Odile Jubécourt, Airbus Head of the A330neo programme. “I am happy to say we are in good shape to meet the high standards of maturity and reliability our customers expect from us and I want to thank the teams for this outstanding achievement.”

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

Thanks to its low, new generation fuel-burn, the A330neo expands its operators’ market opportunities by offering an additional 400 nautical miles range, leading to a 6,550 nautical miles range on the A330-900 and 7,500 nautical miles on the A330-800. To date, 10 customers have ordered a total of 186 A330neo.

The A330-800 and the A330-900 are 99 per cent common, sharing a  95 per cent commonality across the entire A330 fleet, set to optimize costs and flexibility for all its operators. Airlines will also benefit from the Family’s market-leading reliability and reduced maintenance costs.

The A330 is the most popular mid-size wide-body aircraft ever, having won over 1,600 orders to date. Today, over 1,250 aircraft are flying with over 120 airlines worldwide on a wide range of routes, from domestic and regional flights to long range intercontinental services.

Offering the lowest operating costs in its category, and due to continuous investments in latest innovations, the new generation A330neo is the most profitable and best performing aircraft in its size category.

Source: Airbus.