A surprising disclosure in the Airbus media releases about the recently completed cold tests for the A350 is that it experienced temperatures as low as -28C at Iqaluit in Canada’s arctic.
In the history of cold soak tests for jet airliners, as well as daily operations through airports like Fairbanks, Alaska, or even at times Minneapolis St Paul, or Anadyr or other high Siberian locations, -28C is sissy stuff.
Concorde test aircraft 02 did its cold soak test at Fairbanks in February 1974 at -45C, as shown in this extract below from a postcard displayed on an auction site. The note says ‘perfect behaviour by Concorde.’
This isn’t to suggest for a moment that the A350 test didn’t conform to every letter of the certification requirements.
But despite all the coverage of the polar vortex disruption that afflicted the US and Canada this northern winter there were widespread reports during the test period last month of readings of down to -55C in Siberian cities, even though they were also considered above average ‘warmth’ and Moscow has experienced yet another (so far) absurdly mild winter with rain rather than snow in periods when the latter would normally have been expected.
Maybe the time is coming when Airbus, like Boeing and Embraer, might rent a really big freezer in Florida in which to carry out some extreme cold tests. Or cough up for the no doubt fiercely priced landing and parking fees in some of those remarkable Russian cities which have facilities that not only work 24/7 during sub -50C temperatures, but at times readings lower than -60C.