The A50 XWB's flight test programme will involve five aircraft flying about 3,000 hours. The airframer intends to begin flight-testing a cabin-equipped aircraft early in the programme to understand the interior's behaviour in the carbonfibre fuselage.
Certification and service entry is due to follow a 15-month flight-test programme in mid-2013. Meanwhile, development of the smaller -800 and -1000 stretch continues in parallel, with service entry of these two variants due to follow one and two years, respectively, after the A350-900.
"All five aircraft will run in parallel to achieve a short flight test and certification time," says Evrard. "We are planning to put them all into the programme very quickly - within a couple of months."
Evrard says No 5 frame will be used for "early long flight" demonstrations to Asia and Australia, with non-simulated and simulated passenger flights, along similar lines to the A380 route proving test programme.
Two aircraft, No 2 and 5, will be equipped with a cabin, and No 6 will be the first delivered to a customer, he adds.
Airbus Chief Salesman John Leahy hinted that they are close to sealing a deal with another Southeast Asian carrier but refused to divulged further details and directed instead to wait for the airline to make the formal announcements soon.