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Final assembly of the first A350 XWB is now underway at the new final assembly line in Toulouse.
According to Airbus, this latest step in the A350 XWB’s progress is achieved as they start joining the 19.7 metre long centre fuselage with the 21 metre long front fuselage.
Airbus explain that this first A350 XWB airframe will be used for the static structural tests that all new aircraft undergo as part of their certification process. The assembly of the first flying A350 XWB, MSN1, will start during summer. They say the centre fuselage was delivered to Toulouse on Wednesday 4th April 2012 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 the 23rd December 2011. Delivery and installation of the aft fuselage from Hamburg, Germany is expected take place in the coming weeks, followed by the wings delivered from Airbus’ wing assembly site in Broughton, UK.
Airbus say 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 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 programmes.
The A350 XWB is Airbus’ all new family of mid-size widebody airliners which they describe as highly efficient, bringing together the latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies to provide up to 25 percent better fuel efficiency and operating costs compared to current aircraft in the same size category. Airbus say that over 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 aircraft’s Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) fuselage results in lower fuel burn as well as easier maintenance.
The A350 XWB Family consists of three passenger versions with true long-range capability of flying up to 8,500nm/15,580km. 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.
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