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Airbus Powers Up Cockpit on Delayed A350 Passenger Jet

Airbus SAS said the cockpit of the first A350 passenger aircraft has been powered up for initial electrical testing as Europe’s largest aircraftmaker struggles with building the long-range jet.

The front section of the aircraft, which includes the cockpit, arrived within the past month in Toulouse in preparation for the start of full aircraft assembly in October. Power was applied to the front fuselage for the first time on July 23 and the cockpit displays were put under power four days later, Airbus said in an email.

“The power-on acts as a dry-run for the ground tests that will take place later on the complete aircraft,” said Martin Fendt, a spokesman for the Toulouse-based aircraft maker. “This allows us to check the quality and completeness of the nose fuselage.”

Airbus-parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. last week delayed the first flight of the A350, its competitor to Boeing Co.’s 787 and 777 long-range aircraft. The schedule change is driven by delays in building the composite wing. Drilling, that was due to be automated, is still being done by hand.

The A350’s first flight is now planned for June or July, with entry into service delayed three months to the second half of 2014. More tests of the front fuselage are scheduled to take place over the comings weeks, with a target of having the full aircraft under electric power this year, Airbus said in a statement.

Airbus began the A350 final assembly process in April. The first aircraft to undergo the process will be used only in ground trials to assess the structural strength of the composite airframe and wings. Airbus will build a second ground test aircraft to gauge the longevity of the airframe. Five aircraft will be involved in a flight test program ahead of customer deliveries.

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