Airbus is targeting early September 2014 as the entry into service date for the A350-900. A350 program chief Didier Evrard says that the company has set that goal on the assumption that the flight-test program and production ramp-up proceed without serious unforeseen events.
Airbus has not specified exactly when the aircraft is to be delivered to its first operator, Qatar Airways, other than to say it is targeting the second half of 2014. The fact that Airbus is now committing to a more concrete date shows that the company is becoming more comfortable with the internal planning and the results of its flight-test program. “It was important to fly rather early to have some flexibility in the program,” Evrard says.
Airbus is progressing with final assembly of MSN002, the third flight-test aircraft and the first that will have a passenger cabin installed. The company has begun installing some cabin elements such as galleys and flight-crew rest compartments, but that work is ongoing. MSN002 is planned to be ready for painting before the end of the year and final preparations before first flight in February 2014. It is crucial for Airbus to maintain that schedule because the aircraft needs about six months of testing to get the cabin certified. A February first flight would therefore take certification into the August timeframe. Early long flights—simulating long-haul airline operations—are scheduled for spring of next year.
Based on the article “Airbus Sets A350-900 Service Entry Target, Expands Production Capacity” published in Aviationweek