A350 XWB Magazine:
#03 “The Time is Here: The Time to Fly”
Issue #03 is all about the excitement of the big day: 14 June, the day MSN001 made the maiden voyage of the A350 XWB programme.
We have full coverage of the take-off and landing. We also take you behind the scenes: be with the crew as they settle in onboard the aircraft, join the telemetry office as they monitor the four-hour flight, and much more.
“This is just the start of the adventure.”Fabrice Bregier, Airbus President and CEO
We’ll be there during the entire flight test campaign and up until the first A350 XWB enters into commercial service. So stay tuned!
Preparation for First Flight
Pre-flight Cockpit visit
by Peter Chandler, Chief Test Pilot
When MSN001 was handed over from the assembly line to the test flight team, it was the last major milestone prior to the first flight of the A350 XWB programme.
After months of training in simulators, the crew could finally get familiar with the real aircraft, checking its electrical, computer, hydraulic and other systems.
They spent the days leading up to the first flight performing low speed and high speed taxi runs and aborted take-offs. With each passing day, the aircraft was getting more ready and the crew was becoming more confident.
Now, the biggest concern was out of their control: the weather. Would Mother Nature cooperate on the big day
Briefing & Boarding
14 June 2013. The big day was finally here and Mother Nature cooperated. After a rainy night, the sun was peeking through the clouds at 8 a.m.
The flight crew had donned their orange suits and laced up their boots and gathered with other members of the flight test team for the final pre-flight briefing. Intense concentration was evident on each one’s face.
At last, the hour to board was here. Final words of encouragement from excited colleagues and families were shared.
And now – watched and cheered by thousands of Airbus employees, suppliers, media, and aviation enthusiasts – the international, six-man crew walked out into the morning sunshine and boarded their baby: MSN001.
Inside MSN001, the crew was on board. They started the engines at 9:34 and moved into take-off position.
Outside MSN001, the excitement was building. Helicopters hovered overhead. The Corvette chase plane was in the air. Camera crews on high enjoyed their vantage points.
Thousands of people surrounded Toulouse-Blagnac airport to witness this historic occasion.
Exactly at 10:00, with Guy Magrin at the controls, MSN001 started down the runway and accelerated to reach maximum take-off power. Fifteen seconds later, the aircraft was in the air for the first time.
Cheers, whistles and thousands of waving flags saluted the crew as they rose and rose and finally disappeared in the remaining clouds.
After four hours of flight, it was time for MSN001 and the crew to return to earth.
As 2 p.m. approached, the clouds had burned off and an early summer day had arrived.
The thousands gathered around the airport scanned the skies. At 1:55, they were rewarded with a flash of reflected sunlight that meant that MSN001 was close.
With Peter Chandler at the controls, the aircraft went down to 500 feet over the runway and then gently turned up and away. The crowd exploded with joy. MSN001 then began a circle to get back to proper position for the real landing.
After a picture-perfect touchdown, the aircraft made its way to the end of the runway, turned around, paused for a minute or two and then taxied past the crowd. Again the crowd roared. They had spotted Pascal Verneau waving an Airbus flag through a hole in the top of the cockpit.
MSN001 then went to the A350 XWB final assembly line plant for a salute before making its way to its final stop, the plateau at the delivery centre. The very first flight of MSN001 had come to its successful completion.
History of First Flights
The A350 XWB will continue an illustrious history of Airbus first flights.
When the A350 XWB goes skyward for the first time, it will mark the latest in a series of maiden flights that not only started the careers of new Airbus jetliners, but also represented majors steps forward in compagny-developed technology, operating efficiency and productivity pioneered for customers and operators worlwide.