A320neo flight-test campaign making steady progress

Airbus has completed a total of more than 130 flights with its A320neo test fleet, recently expanded to include the first CFM International Leap-1A version.

The airframer has achieved high- and low-speed performance tests with the A320neo as well as noise evaluation for take-off and landing.

Airbus has also carried out flutter testing and exploration of handling in normal and degraded flight laws.

Speaking during a briefing in Toulouse, Airbus programmes chief Didier Evrard said that the campaign had accumulated over 440h, of which 420h had involved the first two Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-powered jets.

The Leap-1A version has been newly introduced to the test regime and had clocked around 24h in six flights by 28 May.

"Today we are flying with the Leap engine, trying to look at all the early flights, to go quickly through the first phase," says Evrard. "But then we will use the aircraft in a combined way."

He adds: "[Customers] expect a benefit but they expect a similar aircraft to control."

Evrard says that he is confident that both powerplant types will reach the fuel-burn levels promised by their manufacturers, pointing out that the airframer has yet to conduct detailed analysis on the Leap-1A

performance because it "hasn't had enough experience in flight".

 

He adds that Airbus and P&W are addressing a "maturity issue" on the PW1100G, relating to a seal in the vicinity of the high-pressure compressor, some production batches of which have shown "slightly more deviations" during operation.

Flight testing is "on hold" until the issue is resolved, he says, but he expects this to be overcome within a few days.

Evrard says that autopilot certification is among the steps yet to be undertaken on the A320neo, along with hot-and-high performance testing, plus functional and reliability tests.

The airframer is also applying the same strategy of mirroring airline operations ahead of entry into service. This strategy, introduced for the A350 as 'Airline1', has been designated 'Neo1' for the new aircraft.

Airbus is aiming to deliver the first A320neo, with PW1100G engines, in the fourth quarter of this year. "We are going to expedite the last phase of the flight test," says Evrard.