Airbus A350: Look up Joburg

2014-08-03 15:36

Cape Town - After a grim patch of depressing aviation news, it was exciting to highlight the debut landing of the Airbus A350XWB on Saturday afternoon at OR Tambo International Airport as part of its World Tour, which started on 24 July.

Choosing OR Tambo as the first airport on the continent to host the European aircraft manufacturer's newest edition is a major vote of confidence for the airport and its air traffic management infrastructure, systems and processes.

Airports Company South Africa’s CEO Mr Bongani Maseko said,  “Today’s test flight at OR Tambo International Airport is symbolic of South Africa’s aerospace ambitions and hi-tech industrial strategy, and also supports Government’s latest Industrial Policy Action Plan which identifies aerospace as a strategic sector for development.”

Involving a series of different tests on four individual trips, Airbus is carrying out crucial high airfield performance and auto-landing trials at OR Tambo International Airport. 

OR Tambo is ideally suited to these tests since it is 5 557 feet (1 694m) above sea level and it is equipped with the necessary landing aids, according to Airports Company South Africa.

The A350XWB is expected to set a new standard in comfort and efficiency in its class, which carries 369 passengers - and its all-new Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) fuselage will considerably reduce fuel consumption by almost 25%  

According to ACSA facebook page, five prototypes of this all-new aircraft have been built and are currently engaged in an intensive and comprehensive flight test and certification programme. 

A total of 10 tests centred on landing approaches and auto-landings have taken place at OR Tambo International  - said to be one of the most challenging airfields to navigate due to its high altitude and its relatively high temperatures.

OR Tambo's easterly runway is used predominantly for landing aircraft and requires precise calibration of auto-landing flight control and radio altimeter software in order to provide an ideal environment to test the accuracy of the A350XWB’s auto-landing capability, according to Acsa. 

The A350XWB departs for Sydney, Australia on Monday, 4th August and will visit a total of 14 airports around the world before ending its world tour on 13 August. 

Read more on:    flights  |  good news  |  air travel  |  aviation

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