Airbus began the 2,500-hour flight-test program for the A350 XWB when the new long-range widebody took off for the first time at almost exactly 10 a.m. local time in Toulouse, France, on Friday. The eagerly awaited first flight over southwestern France lasted slightly more than four hours and the twinjet, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, touched down safely back in Toulouse at 2:05 p.m.
Regardless of whether this week’s 50th Paris Air Show (June 17 to 23) sees a surprise fly-past by the newly airborne Airbus A350XWB widebody, the biennial event will open with expectations of yet more airliner orders further bolstering backlogs. Both Airbus and Boeing, which will display two 787 Dreamliners, are expected to announce further orders.
Airbus has taken steps to resolve what remains the bane of air travelers’ lives: lost baggage, which it estimates is a $2.6 billion problem annually. Better still, its new Bag2Go program raises the possibility of passengers being able to let their bags travel independently and arrive in a timely way at their final destination. Through a partnership with German baggage maker Rimowa and communications group T-Mobile, the airframer has tapped radio frequency identification technology to create a so-called intelligent suitcase that can be dispatched and tracked from the passenger’s smartphone.
Will the aviation world ever be truly seamless? This was the question being asked at last week’s annual EASA/FAA conference, held here in Paris. The goal seems as far away as ever with the U.S. and Europe struggling to fund ambitious new ATM systems. However, it was not missed on panelists that it is the developing world that might lead the way, as they have no legacy systems or personnel issues to deal with.
“The honeymoon has lasted longer than on previous aircraft: people go out of their way to fly on [the A380 very-large airliner],” according to Airbus programs executive vice-president Tom Williams. By the beginning of this month, the European manufacturer had delivered 103 aircraft from the 262 for which it holds firm orders, leaving a backlog of 159, equivalent to about six years’ production.
The European Commission (EC) has reacted to the recent strikes by French air traffic controllers by speeding up what it says are long overdue improvements to the European air traffic management system.
Embraer has chosen this Paris Air Show as the venue to launch its second generation E-Jet, now known as the E2. The company plans to reveal further details of the project here today and possibly announce a launch customer.
While the long-term goal for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is for 80 percent of their uses to be in the civilian sector, their main uses currently remain in the military sphere–although their role in border surveillance and disaster situations is increasing.
The U.S. Navy’s next-generation maritime patrol jet, the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, is months away from starting its first operational deployment, which will hasten the retirement of the venerable P-3C Orion turboprop.
GE Aviation, best known for its civil and military jet engines and integrated aircraft systems, plans to establish itself as a Tier 1 aerostructures supplier by the second half of the next decade. Ultimately, the company has a long-term vision to develop integrated propulsion systems (IPS) for future single-aisle airliners and regional aircraft, bringing together GE Aviation’s aerostructures capabilities in advanced wing and flying-control surface design with its turboprop engine and propeller activities in other divisions.