The first ever Airbus A350 XWB to visit the U.S., MSN2, arrived the second week in May at McKinley Climatic Lab at Eglin Air Force base in Florida. Over several weeks the aircraft and its various systems and cabin installations will be subjected to the extreme hot and cold temperatures that the facility can sustain in a testing environment.
These tests come on top of those already performed earlier this year in the Middle East and Northern Canada "to ensure maturity and full in-service readiness from Day 1 for all A350 XWB’s operators."
There are currently four test aircraft—MSN1, MSN2, MSN3, and MSN4—flying in the A350 XWB program. Together they have accumulated around 1600 flight test hours in more than 350 flights. MSN5—the final flight test A350 XWB jetliner and second to be equipped with a cabin, MSN2 being the first—is expected to join its siblings in the lineup before summer. In particular, MSN5 will consist of cabin operability training, route-proving, and ETOPS (extended range twin operations) certification.
The certification process for the program is progressing on schedule—certification is anticipated in the third quarter of 2014 with entry into service with Qatar Airlines in the fourth quarter of this year