Here in Toulouse, Airbus is hosting Innovation Days, an annual two-day event that brought journalists from 50 countries for a series of briefings by senior Airbus management.
This year’s event opened on a downbeat note as Airbus announced –- and chief salesman John Leahy subsequently sought to downplay -- the cancellation of 70 A350 orders by Emirates. But Leahy was not the highlight of our visit to Toulouse this time. A flight on MSN002, Airbus’ second A350 test aircraft, stole the show.
We were second in line to depart behind Airbus' A400M military airlifter.
We took off from Blagnac at 1045 with a take-off weight of 192 metric tonnes, loaded with 90 tonnes of fuel. Airbus A350 chief test pilot Peter Chandler and A350 project test pilot Frank Chapman were at the controls. (Below photo: Kurt Hoffman)
Take off video
Cruising at 31,000ft over the French Pyrenees, we were even greeted in the air by a French Air Force Dassault Rafale.
This test aircraft has a full passenger cabin ...
... but it is still fitted with test equipment, as demonstrated by the media scrum in this picture.
Safety instructions for A350
The Aviation Week team. L-R: Rupa Haria, Jens Flottau, Joe Anselmo
Finally, in case you missed them back in February, check out these two videos from the Singapore air show. Our propulsion expert, Guy Norris, takes a technical look at the A350, and commercial managing editor Jens Flottau talks to Peter Chandler.