An A319 has successfully completed high-altitude demonstration flights in Tibet at two of the world’s highest airports.
The aircraft, powered by IAE V2500 engines, jetted off from airports in Bangda (14,200ft/4,330m atlitude) and Lhasa (11,700ft/3,570m altitude ) to demonstrate the performance and maneuverability of the aircraft at maximum allowable take-off weight. The tests covered both normal and single engine operations.
The A319 used for the demonstration will return to the Airbus production line in Hamburg, Germany, before it is delivered to Air China in a few weeks. It is the Chinese flag carrier’s second A319, the company having taken delivery of their first aircraft on 17 July. The airline has a further seven A319s on order, powered by IAE V2500 engines.
Once in service the aircraft will be required to take off, with full passenger loads, from high-altitude airports frequently located in mountain valleys. The aircraft will need to have sufficient thrust with one engine shut-down to either return to the departure airport or to continue to the destination while maintaining a safe altitude over the Himalayan mountains.
The performance data generated by the tests confirmed the aircraft exceeded Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) and Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) high altitude requirements on routes from Chengdu, south-west China, to Bangda and Lhasa.
Air China Vice President Ma Kui Liang said the airline’s investment in a new fleet of A319 aircraft was a key element in its growth strategy. Describing Tibet as a region with excellent tourism and industrial growth potential, he described high altitude performance as essential in supporting the airline’s aims in expanding its operations there.
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