Trent XWB powerplant makes maiden sortie

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Rolls-Royce's Trent XWB engine, which will eventually power the Airbus A350, has made its first flight on board the airframer's MSN1 A380 flying testbed.

The aircraft performed a flight of over 5h from Airbus's Toulouse facility, during which the Trent XWB was taken to a range of power settings at altitudes up to 43,000ft (13,115m).

Airbus said the powerplant "operated flawlessly" during the tests, which also evaluated the aircraft's handling.

The Trent XWB engine was mounted in the number two position on the A380.

"The engine performed excellently during its first flight-test, just as we expected," said Charles Champion, executive vice-president of engineering at Airbus. "This is a promising start to the Trent XWB's flight-test programme which will ensure a thorough real-life testing of the engine, nacelle and its systems."

The engine's flight-test campaign is due to accumulate a total of 175h over a seven-month period, said Airbus. It will also test the nacelle and thrust reverser system manufactured by Goodrich.

The first results of this flight-test campaign are expected this summer.

Airbus anticipates first flight of the A350 in early 2013.

The engine's maiden sortie comes a little over three months after the engine was mounted on the flying testbed in late October.

Fan diamter on the Trent XWB is 118in (3m), slightly larger than the 116in of the Trent 900 it replaced.