Final assembly of the first Airbus A350 XWB is now underway at the new final assembly line for the new widebody jet in Toulouse.
This latest step in the A350 XWB’s progress is achieved as Airbus starts joining the 19.7-meter-long (64 feet 8 inches) center fuselage with the 21-meter-long (68 feet 11 inches) front fuselage.
The first Airbus A350 XWB airframe will be used for the static structural tests that all new aircraft undergo as part of their certification process.
Assembly of the first flying A350 XWB, MSN1, will start this summer.
The center fuselage was delivered to Toulouse on April 4 in an Airbus A300-600ST ‘Beluga’ from Airbus in St. Nazaire on France’s Atlantic coast. The front fuselage had been delivered from St. Nazaire to the A350 XWB final assembly line on December 23, 2011.
Delivery and installation of the aft fuselage from Hamburg in Germany will take place in the coming weeks. This will be followed by the wings, delivered from Airbus’ wing assembly site in Broughton, UK.
The A350 XWB fuselage is made up of three main sections – front, centre 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 completed, the fuselage is transferred to Station 40 where the wings and tail sections are joined.
In parallel to this, cabin installation is carried out simultaneously while the wing-fuselage join up takes place, as well as the “power on” of the aircraft systems. In this way, Airbus can start functional tests earlier than in previous airliner-production programs.
The A350 XWB is Airbus’ all-new family of mid-size widebody airliners. According to the manufacturer, these aircraft bring together the latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies to provide up to 25 per cent better fuel efficiency and operating costs compared to current aircraft in the same size category.
Over 70 per cent of the A350 XWB’s weight-efficient airframe is made from advanced materials combining composites (53 per cent), titanium and advanced aluminum alloys.
The aircraft’s all-new carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) fuselage will result in lower fuel burn as well as easier maintenance, according to Airbus. The A350 XWB benefits from Airbus’ extensive experience in incorporating composite material into its aircraft.
The Airbus A350 XWB family consists of three passenger versions capable of flying up to 8,500 nautical miles (15,580 kilometers) with typical payloads.
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.
Each version of the A350 XWB is designed to be somewhat larger in size than the closest comparable version of the Boeing 787, with the A350-900 and the A350-1000 respectively being close in size to Boeing’s 777-200ER/777-200LR and 777-300ER models.