Airbus A350 makes its maiden test flight

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Airbus has written another chapter in its 43 year history with the maiden flight of the A350 XWB, an aircraft that is made up of 52 per cent composite parts.

The aircraft, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, took off from Toulouse this morning and marks the beginning of a test campaign totaling around 2,500 flight hours with a fleet of five development aircraft.

According to Airbus flight testing will lead to the certification of the A350-900 variant by the European EASA and US FAA airworthiness authorities, prior to entry into service in the second half of 2014 with Qatar Airways.

The aircraft is made from 52 per cent composites, 7 per cent steel, 14 per cent titanium, 20 per cent AL, AL-Li, 7 per cent miscellaneous materials and is expected to use 25 per cent less fuel compared with other aircraft of its size category.

Click here for an in depth look at how Airbus built the A350 XWB.

Trent XWB engine facts

  • The front fan is just under 10 feet across (9.8) and sucks in up to 1.3 tonnes of air every second at take-off.
  • The force on a fan blade at take-off is equivalent to a load of almost 1,000 tonnes, the same as a freight train hanging off each blade.
  • High pressure turbine blades inside the engine rotate at 12,500 rpm, with their tips reaching 1,200mph - twice the speed of sound.
  • At take off each of the engine’s 68 high pressure turbine blades generates around 900 horsepower per blade - similar to a Formula One racing car.
  • At full power, air leaves the nozzle at the back of the engine travelling at almost 1000mph.

Source: Rolls-Royce