I just came across an article by Bill Sweetman, dealing with the A380 Flight Test Program. It doesn't include latest news but some interesting facts and quotations by test pilots.
"It has a lot of inertia - you can't remove that. But otherwise there's no feeling of flying a large aircraft," says Claude Lelaie, svp of Airbus' flight division. But that is the point of the A380's flight control system: to make the aircraft respond as much like other Airbus types as possible, to facilitate cross-crew qualification for mixed-fleet operators. "When the controls are perfectly tuned, you won't be able to tell if youï¿½re on an A340 or A380."
The flight tests are performed with two pilots and two-to-three flight test engineers, with engineer stations on the upper and lower decks. A third cockpit crew member is carried to help the pilots monitor and manage the aircraft configuration during high-workload tests. Four telemetry ground stations provide coverage of up to 14,000 datapoints on each flight.
The next aircraft to join the test program will be MSN 004, which will be heavily instrumented for performance testing standard empty weight. It should start tests before the end of the summer.
MSN 002 is the next test aircraft in the manufacturing sequence, tasked with testing cabin systems - particularly over long flights. The program will start with one to two months of preliminary tests, followed by four or five "early long flights" carrying a full complement of passengers drawn from Airbus employees.
After any problems are fixed, MSN 002 and MSN 007, the fourth test aircraft, will be used for 300 hours of route proving. MSN 002 will have a Thales IFE system and 007 will have a Panasonic system. The final test aircraft is MSN 009, which will be dedicated to testing the Engine Alliance GP7200 engine, which is due to be certificated in October.
"In 22 years at Airbus this is the best flight test program I have ever known," says Fernando Alonso, vp for flight test at Airbus. "It has gone so well that on flight 13 we invited the EASA flight certification pilot to fly with us." A dozen pilots have flown the A380 so far, each requiring no more than a single check flight in the right-hand seat before taking over in the left.