The timescales of its previous airliner launches suggest Airbus could be ready to fly the aircraft in mid-June, depending on weather and ground trials, giving pilots a narrow time window to test the plane's basic characteristics in flight before the June 17-23 air show.
With just a few hours in the air, industry sources say it is unlikely that the first completed A350 XWB, rolled out of the Airbus paint shop only last week, will actually land at the show. Test aircraft require special permissions to land and only some airports are certified for those purposes.
A flying debut is the signature moment in the development of any new plane, when the industry goes into publicity overdrive. A 600km trip from Toulouse to Le Bourget is surely the unannounced-target of Airbus; date of first flight is not certain, and those of the following flights are even more uncertain as you will never know what issues have to be resolved. So, if one of the test flights can be combined with a flyby at Le Bourget it would be a bonus, but not a priority.
"If everything goes well, you can do a quick check of cruise performance even on the first flight," said Claude Lelaie, who was head of flight testing at Airbus before he retired.
"Everyone is usually anxious to have a very preliminary idea of performance, and especially fuel consumption," he said.
Based on the article “First flight nears, A350 could make Paris show flyby” published by Reuters