Airbus plays it cool

Airbus

has put its new A380 superjumbo through a series of cold weather tests in Iqaluit, Canada. MSN004, the second A380 to fly, spent five days in conditions of up to -30°C to prove full functionality of its systems under extreme weather conditions.

The trials included powering up the aircraft, engines and hydraulic systems after a 12-hour period at ultra-low temperatures. The batteries were taken away overnight and kept in a warm area, then reinstalled onboard the aircraft for the tests.

On the way back from Iqaluit, the A380 also carried out polar navigation tests.

Earlier this month, high-altitude tests successfully took place in Medellin, Columbia — an airport at an altitude of 5,000ft.

MSN004 spent a week in Columbia carrying out engine tests at high-altitude airfields.

‘Certification is a continuing process,’ said Claude Lelaie, senior vice-president, flight division. ‘The current routine is two flights a day on each aircraft, six days a week, in addition to the big test campaigns. We are happy with the plane’s performance during the test campaigns.’

So far two aircraft, MSN001 and MSN004, have been equipped with heavy test instrumentation.

The third plane, MSN002, is undergoing cabin installation in Hamburg.

It will soon be joined by a fourth, MSN007, which will also undergo cabin and noise tests, as well as performing early long flights and later route proving exercises, together with further airport compatibility checks.

A hot-weather testing campaign is scheduled to take place in Africa this summer, where the aircraft will face temperatures of up to 40°C.

The three Rolls-Royce-powered A380s that have taken to the air have accumulated more than 250 flights and close to 900 flight hours.

The Engine Alliance GP7200-powered A380 MSN009 will join the flight test programme as part of the certification campaign by mid-2006.

The full A380 test programme involves more than 2,500 flight hours.

Photo: P Masclet