A350 XWB first front and centre fuselage in the assembly jig and ready for join-up. (Picture © Airbus. Photo by P. Masclet.)
A350 XWB first front and centre fuselage in the assembly jig and ready for join-up. (Picture © Airbus. Photo by P. Masclet.)

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, known as MSN1, will start during the summer.

The centre fuselage was delivered to Toulouse on 4 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 23 December 2011. Delivery and installation of the aft fuselage from Hamburg, Germany, will take place in the coming weeks, followed by the wings delivered from Airbus wing assembly site in Broughton, UK.

A350 XWB assembly

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.

Composite materials

The A350 XWB is Airbus’ new family of mid-size widebody airliners. These aircraft bring together the latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies to provide up to 25% better fuel efficiency and operating costs compared to current aircraft in the same size category.

Over 70% of the A350 XWB airframe is made from advanced materials combining composites (53%), titanium and advanced aluminium alloys. The aircraft’s new carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) fuselage is reported to result in lower fuel burn as well as easier maintenance.

The A350 XWB family consists of three passenger versions offering 270-350 seats.