Airbus (Toulouse, France) reported on Aug. 9 that the first A350 XWB center wing box has been delivered from Airbus’ site in Nantes, France, to Airbus’ St. Nazaire, France, facility where it will be assembled into the first A350 XWB fuselage. The impressive A350 XWB centerwing box, 40 percent of which is made from carbon fiber composites, measures 6.5m by 5.5m by 3.9m.
Loaded on to a special transport jig, the A350 XWB center wing box left Nantes by river barge, together with an A380 center wing box, travelling along the Loire River to reach St. Nazaire a few hours later. Once the part is installed in to the A350 XWB fuselage, the sub-assembly will then be flown by Beluga from St Nazaire to Airbus’ new A350 XWB final assembly line in Toulouse, France.
The first composite lay-up for the A350 XWB took place in Nantes in December 2009, marking the coming to life of the aircraft. The biggest panels produced for the center wing box, entirely made of carbon fiber, have a surface area of 36m2, making them the largest monolithic composite panels ever manufactured in Nantes.
Along with other Airbus facilities around the world, the Airbus plant in Nantes has a high expertise in composite material and is a leader in the manufacture and assembly of carbon fiberstructural parts, such as the center wing box and the keel beam for the A350 XWB. The A350 XWB structure is 53 percent composite-based, including major elements such as wings and fuselage.
“This is a great milestone and marks a significant step forwards for the A350 XWB program as we get closer to the start of final assembly of the first aircraft,” said Didier Evrard, head of the A350 XWB program. “The delivery of the first A350 XWB center wing box is the result of the team’s sheer hard work, expertise in the design and manufacturing of complex, large composite structures and their strong commitment to deliver to our customers on time and on quality.”