A350 test rig to begin simulating maiden flight

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Airbus has started conducting virtual first-flight operations with the A350 test rig, a crucial preparatory step for the maiden flight of the MSN1 prototype.

The airframer says it is still aiming to perform the first flight of the A350-900 in the "middle of this year".

It has configured its Aircraft Zero iron-bird rig to be "fully representative" of the first flight of MSN1, it states. The rig comprises the hydraulic and electric systems for the flight controls as well as an integrated cockpit simulator.

"This provides the closest core system test environment to the effective first flight of MSN1," says the airframer.

Airbus's virtual operations with the rig are intended to achieve two objectives. They will simulate normal and abnormal scenarios, ahead of the first real flight, to check handling qualities as well as the aircraft's systems.

But the test will also "ensure maturity", says the airframer, by helping the development team pick up possible problems, and give the flight crew experience ahead of taking command of the real aircraft.