The Airbus A320neo has completed its first flight, landing back at Toulouse’s Blagnac airport at 2:22 p.m. local time Thursday after a noon departure.

During its first flight, the aircraft stayed near Toulouse and opened the flight envelope with a medium speed and altitude range. The aircraft was flown by Experimental Test Pilots Philippe Pellerin and Etienne Miche de Malleray. Three more people were on board—Test-Flight Engineer Jean-Paul Lambert and Flight-Test Engineers Manfred Birnfeld and Sandra Bour-Schaeffer.

Airbus will use a total of eight test aircraft for the campaign—four A320neos, two A319neos and two A321neos. Around 3,000 flight-test hours are planned. The initial aircraft was powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines and will be joined by a second PW-equipped aircraft later this fall. Two CFM LEAP-1A-powered A320neos are to follow in the late spring and summer of 2015. The A320neo with PW1100G engines will enter revenue service in the fourth quarter of 2015, while the first CFM-equipped aircraft will be delivered in the second quarter of 2016.

With few modifications made to the aircraft itself, Airbus’ main challenge beyond the flight tests will be an unprecedented ramp-up of production. Airbus plans to jump from a rate of zero to 46 aircraft per month within three years —the transition from the current A320 version to the NEO is to be completed in 2018. The manufacturer has gone to great lengths to prepare supppliers by testing ramp-up ahead of time. It plans to demonstrate the production capacity needed in the first quarter of 2017 two years earlier.

Airbus has collected a total of 3,257 firm orders for the various versions of the A320neo family, which is currently equivalent to a market share of around 60% (the comparison is somewhat skewed because the competing Boeing 737 MAX was launched later). Airbus is readying itself for a major shift in demand among the different versions and is prepared to allocate almost half of future production to the A321neo. It has also raised maximum-passenger capacity to allow for lower unit costs: The A319neo will hold 160 passengers, up from 156, the A320neo will transport 189 passengers, up from 180, and the A321neo will be able to carry 240 passengers, which is 20 more than can be accommodated by the current A321.