Posted on: 25 September 2014 by Ross McSweeny
tAt noon Central European Time today, the first Airbus A320neo took to the skies from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport and was flown around Southern France by Airbus experimental test pilots Philippe Pellerin and Etienne Miche de Malleray for around two and half hours.
ttMSN6101 (registration F-WNEO), which is powered by Pratt & Whitney’s PW1100G-JM engine, was rolled out in July, having begun assembly in March. Since then, the aircraft has undergone numerous checks and ground tests in preparation for the first flight.
ttFlight-test engineers Manfred Birnfeld and Sandra Bour-Schaeffer were both monitoring the progress of the flight profile from the ground via a direct telemetry link, and test-flight engineer Jean-Paul Lambert accompanied the pilots in the cockpit.
ttThe A320neo’s successful maiden flight, which explored the aircraft’s flight envelope and systems operation, is just the beginning of flight test campaign involving eight aircraft encompassing all models and both new engine options: the aforementioned Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM and the CFM International LEAP-1A turbofans.
ttThe NEO development fleet is expected to perform a combined total of approximately 3,000 hours of flight testing. The A320neo with Pratt & Whitney engines will be the first variant in the Neo Family to receive type certification followed by its entry into airline service in the 4th quarter of 2015 with Qatar Airways as the first operator.
tt“I congratulate the whole A320neo development team, ground crew and air crew for making this day happen. The A320neo which has taken to the air today builds on the outstanding success of the A320 Family,” announced Fabrice Brégier, Airbus’s CEO. “The aircraft through its incremental innovations combines the most efficient engine and aerodynamic technologies, as well as new cabin features to bring to market a product which will consume 20% less fuel per passenger.”