Airbus begins final assembly of first A350 XWB

Airbus has begun joining the center fuselage with the front fuselage of the composites-intensive A350 XWB at the company's new assembly facility in Toulouse, France. Delivery of the aft fuselage from Germany and the wings from the U.K. is expected in the coming weeks. This first A350 will be used for static structural tests.

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Airbus (Toulouse, France) reported on April 5 that final assembly of the first A350 XWB is now underway at the new final assembly line in Toulouse. This latest step in the A350 XWB’s progress is achieved as Airbus has started joining the 19.7m/64.6-ft-long center fuselage with the 21m/68.9-ft-long front fuselage.

This first A350 XWB airframe will be used for the static structural tests that all new aircraft undergo as part of the certification process. The assembly of the first flying A350 XWB, MSN1, will start during summer.

The center fuselage was delivered to Toulouse on April 4 by Beluga from Airbus in St Nazaire, France. The front fuselage was previously delivered from St Nazaire to the A350 XWB final assembly line on Dec. 23, 2011. Delivery and installation of the aft fuselage from Hamburg, Germany will take place in the coming weeks, followed by the wings delivered from Airbus’ wing assembly site in Broughton, U.K.

The A350 XWB fuselage is made up of three main sections: front, center and aft. These will be joined together at the first main assembly station, Station 50. The nose landing-gear is also joined here. Once this stage is complete, the fuselage is transferred to Station 40 where the wings and tail sections are joined. In parallel to this, cabin installation will be carried out simultaneously to the wing-fuselage join up, as well as the “power on” of the aircraft systems. In this way, functional tests can start earlier than on previous programs.

More than 70 percent of the A350 XWB’s weight-efficient airframe is made from advanced materials combining composites (53 percent), titanium and advanced aluminium alloys. The A350 XWB Family consists of three passenger versions with true long-range capability of flying up to 8,500 nm/15,580 km. In a typical three-class configuration, the A350-800 will offer 270 seats while the A350-900 and the A350-1000 will offer 314 and 350 seats respectively.