Airbus cold-weather tests new engine in Canada’s eastern Arctic

Airplane flying in over Frobisher Bay, Iqaluit. Photo: Levon Sevunts, Radio Canada International. Engine will power the new A350 passenger jet

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is in Iqaluit, the capital city of Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, to cold weather test the engine that will power its new A350 passenger jet.

The company is testing the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB using its A380 aircraft — one of the world’s largest passenger planes.

“It is the engine which is going to power very shortly the A350 aircraft that is going to make its maiden flight this summer,” said Emanuele Costanzo, a test flight engineer with Airbus.

This is Pascal Verneau’s fifth time in Iqaluit with Airbus. During the test flights he sits in the cockpit with the pilots and he has clocked more than 3,000 flight hours on the A380.

“For Iqaluit, the airport is qualified for the A380, the support is qualified for the handling and you don’t have no more traffic here,” he said. “So for us it’s very easy to perform the test because we are near to alone here. It’s nice.”

Airbus is not the only aircraft manufacturer to come to Iqaluit — Boeing, Bombardier, Cessna and Eurocopter have also done cold weather testing at the city’s airport.

“There’s all kinds of economic spin-offs that come with it,” said John Hawkins, director of Iqaluit International Airport.

“It’s the middle of winter and you have 30 people or so come in on these missions. They’re here, interested in spending money in the hotels and they’re doing what people do when they come here on business.”

Costanzo said he enjoys the northern hospitality in Iqaluit and the Arctic char.

“When we came the first time in 2006, we had a very good experience and so since we have the temperatures here that are suitable to our test, we decided to come back here,” he said.

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