Another piece of aviation history was created at Shannon this week with the arrival at an Irish airport – for the first time – of European aircraft manufacturer Airbus’ newest jet.
The A350-1000 development jet touched down at the midwest airport on Thursday afternoon to carry out a series of rejected take-offs (RTO’s) as part of the new aircraft’s flight testing programme.
However, after flying all the way from Toulouse the flight crew had abandon their original plans for a series of RTO’s after the jet suffered a technical problem on landing.
The prototype jet undertook the maiden flight for the -1000 series last year. It arrived in Shannon from the Airbus factory in Toulouse at 4.05pm attracting considerable interest from aircraft enthusiasts, airport workers and locals.
After the jet landed, it continued to the end of the runway to turn around when the crew confirmed they had an issue with the left engine thrust reverser.
The crew advised air traffic controllers that they might need to be towed off the runway. A short time later however, the pilot confirmed they could taxi under their own power and the jet was directed to a remote taxiway so that the issue could be investigated.
About about two hours engineers resolved the problem and the crew managed to perform just one rejected take-off before returning to Toulouse earlier.
The -1000 series is the latest model in the A350 family which entered service in 2015. The Airbus A350-1000 series of jets have a typical range of about 14,800kms and can carry up to 366 passengers.
The new A350-1000 is 22ft longer and can carry 41 more passengers than its -900 variant. Airbus has 211 orders for the new -1000 jet which is still in the testing phase and yet to enter commercial service. The company also has over 600 orders for the -900 series with 94 in service worldwide.
In 2006, before the world’s largest passenger jet entered service, Airbus used Shannon as part of the aircraft’ certification process. The Airbus A380 was sent to Shannon specifically for cross-wind training as weather forecast in the area at the time was ideal.
In 2010, Shannon saw yet another first for an Irish airport with the arrival of Boeing’s newest airliner. The 787 Dreamliner made a stop at Shannon while returning to the US from the UK.
Shannon was the first commercial airport outside the US where a Boeing 787 landed. The jet entered service the following year.
At 3,200m, the runway at Shannon is the longest in Ireland and can cater for all the largest aircraft in operation. The airport is regularly used for training crews on new aircraft.