Airbus inaugurates A350 XWB final assembly line in France

With two A350 XWB aircraft being assembled — one for static testing and one for flight testing — Airbus formally opened its final assembly line for this composites-intensive plane in Toulouse, France.

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Airbus (Toulouse, France) on Oct. 23 inaugurated the composites-intensive A350 XWB Final Assembly Line, a purpose-built, L-shaped facility next to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in southwestern France. The event was attended by more than 1,000 representatives from customers, suppliers and partners, along with elected officials and other invitees – who were joined by an equal number of Airbus employees.

“The A350 carries forward a widebody heritage that began with the A300, and it represents Airbus’ future in possibly the most competitive industry on Earth,” said Airbus president and CEO Fabrice Brégier in a speech at the inauguration. “I thank everyone in the teams for such great work, as they are not just building the A350; they are building the future of Airbus.”

The event underscored the A350 XWB program’s progress, as it spotlighted the build-up status in the final assembly hall for the jetliner’s first two airframes. The first is a static test airframe sized as an A350-900, and it is to be used for ground- based structural evaluations. It is at the final assembly line’s Station 40 — with the complete fuselage assembled, along with installation of the wings and vertical tail plane. At the adjacent Station 50 is the no. 1 aircraft being built for flight — also an A350-900 version — with its fuselage already joined, and now ready for mating of the wings, as well as vertical and horizontal tail planes in the coming weeks.

As the jetliner family’s middle family member, the A350-900 accommodates 314 passengers in a typical three-class configuration. The longer-fuselage A350-1000 version seats 350, while the shortest — the A350-800 — has a capacity of 270 passengers. 

Addressing the crowd, Airbus COO Günter Butschek said final assembly of a third A350 XWB is to begin before year-end, with the program’s production rate ramping up to a targeted 10 aircraft per month by late 2018.

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