Airbus has embarked on final assembly of the first A350, the static airframe, at its assembly production line in Toulouse, France.
Soon after the delivery of the center fuselage, which is 19.7m (64.6ft) long, the airframer started to join it with the 21m forward fuselage section. The aft fuselage to be delivered from Hamburg during the next few weeks, and this will be installed as soon as it is delivered. After that, wings will be delivered from Airbus’ UK plant at Broughton.
The first stages of assembling the forward, centre, and aft sections of the static airframe will be carried out at the 'Station 50' point at Toulouse. The nose-gear will also be attached to the fuselage at ‘Station 50’. After that, the assembly will be transported to Station 40 where the tail and wing will be assembled. The installation of the cabin will be concurrent with wing-fuselage mating and electrical power-on. This will allow Airbus to start functional tests on the A350.
Airbus was targeting commencing final assembly of the static airframe during the first quarter of 2012. However, Airbus’ parent company, EADS, recently stated that the process will begin in April 2012.
This first A350 XWB airframe is part of the certification process that all new aircraft must go through – it will be used for the aircraft’s static structural tests. The final assembly of MSN1, the first flying prototype, will begin during the summer.