Airbus A350 gets engine certification, to fly in summer

PARIS Thu Feb 7, 2013 10:49am EST

Fabrice Bregier (C), Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer, stands with, from L-R, Domingo Urena-Raso, Head of Airbus Military, Gunter Butschek, Chief Operating Officer, John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer Customers, and Tom Williams, Executive Vice-President-Programmes, as they attend the Airbus annual news conference in Toulouse, January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles

Fabrice Bregier (C), Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer, stands with, from L-R, Domingo Urena-Raso, Head of Airbus Military, Gunter Butschek, Chief Operating Officer, John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer Customers, and Tom Williams, Executive Vice-President-Programmes, as they attend the Airbus annual news conference in Toulouse, January 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jean-Philippe Arles

PARIS (Reuters) - Europe's Airbus said it was on track to carry out a maiden flight of its A350 airliner in the summer as European safety authorities approved the aircraft's twin Rolls-Royce engines.

The Trent XWB turbofans developed for Europe's latest passenger plane are the largest commercial jet engines ever built by the UK company, though its rival General Electric (GE.N) holds the record for the world's largest engines, on the Boeing 777.

Engine certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency is a key step in the development of the mid-sized jetliner designed in response to the 787 Dreamliner and puts Airbus on course for a maiden flight in the summer, the planemaker said.

Airbus is designing three types of A350 with capacity for 270 to 350 passengers and incorporating a lightweight carbon-fibre design similar to the Boeing Dreamliner.

The Trent XWB engine will power two of the three Airbus versions, while Rolls-Royce is developing a more powerful version for the largest of the series, the A350-1000.

Airbus plans to deliver the A350 in the second half of 2014. (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Dominique Vidalon and Elaine Hardcastle)