Airbus has started joining the first 21-metre long front fuselage section for the A350 XWB in Saint-Nazaire, France. This phase will continue over the coming weeks, and once completed, the front fuselage will be transported by Beluga to the A350 XWB Final Assembly Line in Toulouse. It will be the first major section of the A350 XWB to enter the final assembly line. The front fuselage is destined for the A350 XWB static test airframe – the first A350 XWB to be assembled. It will be followed closely by the first “flyable” airframe for MSN1, one of the five flight test aircraft Airbus will build. The static airframe is used solely for ground tests that will demonstrate the aircraft’s ability to sustain certification loads and provide key data ahead of the first flight in 2013.
News in brief
Airbus starts joining the A350 XWB "MSN1" front fuselage
A beneficial change of scenery for Airbus’ Indian engineering centre
The Airbus Engineering Centre India (AECI) has relocated to a larger building within Bangalore, allowing for a consolidation of its teams into a single integrated facility and providing the necessary space for long-term growth over the next decade. The centre originally opened during April 2007, and its workforce has grown steadily since – with the total employee count now exceeding 250. The new building is certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and is located in an established area for international business.
Final assembly of first THAI A380 begins
Assembly of the first A380 for Thai Airways International (THAI) has now commenced at the Airbus Final Assembly Line in Toulouse. The final assembly process of an A380 is made up of several phases. At the first station, front, central, and aft fuselages, wings, horizontal and vertical tail planes (HTP and VTP) are assembled. The aircraft is then moved to the second station where general tests on electric/hydraulic systems, mobile parts and landing gears are carried out, while engines also are installed. During the third phase, final ground and first engines tests take place in dedicated facilities outside of the main building. Finally, the A380 is prepared for its first flight to the Airbus facilities in Hamburg, where the cabin will be installed and the aircraft painted in the airline’s livery. THAI will become the ninth operator of the A380 when it takes delivery of its first aircraft in the third quarter of 2012. The airline has firm orders for six A380s and will operate the aircraft on its premier routes from Bangkok to Europe.
Airbus starts making the wings for first A350 XWB
Assembly of the first A350 XWB’s 32-metre-long carbon fibre wings has begun at Airbus’ recently-opened North Factory in Broughton, UK. Pre-assembly of ribs, upper and lower covers and fixed leading and trailing edges already has taken place. These components will be moved into the main assembly jigs for full wing box integration. Most of the A350 XWB wing is made of lightweight carbon composites, including the upper and lower wing covers, stringers, front and rear spars. The advanced structural design and superior wing aerodynamics are significant contributors to the aircraft’s 25 per cent fuel-saving performance.
A320 fitted with fuel-saving Sharklets prepares for flight-tests
Airbus has completed installation of the first set of Sharklet wing-tip devices on the company’s A320 development aircraft (MSN 001), preparing for the flight-test campaign in the coming weeks. Sharklets, which have been specially designed for the Airbus A320 Family, will reduce fuel burn by up to 3.5 percent, corresponding to an annual CO2 reduction of around 700 tonnes per aircraft. These new wingtip devices are around 2.5 metres tall and will replace the aircraft’s current wingtip fence. Offered as an option on new-build aircraft, as well as being standard on the A320neo Family, Sharklets also will enhance the aircraft’s payload-range and take-off performance.
MASkargo takes delivery of second A330-200F at Dubai Air Show
MASkargo, the freight subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, took delivery of its second A330-200F at the Dubai Air Show today. The A330-200F is the world’s most modern mid-size freighter and can carry 70 tonnes of payload, with a range capability of up to 4,000nm. For MASkargo, the aircraft’s performance and flexibility enable direct freight services from its Kuala Lumpur base to destinations across Asia, with onward capability to Australasia, Europe or the US. Altogether, MASkargo has ordered four A330-200F aircraft for operation across its international network.
Completion of production marks new chapter in the A340 success story
Twenty years after its maiden flight, Airbus has completed production for the A340 jetliner, reflecting changing market dynamics. While new aircraft are no longer to be built, Airbus will continue to fully support the current global fleet of A340s – which are providing reliable ultra long-haul flight services with customers around the world – as long as they are in operation. Four versions of the A340 were produced by Airbus: the A340-200, A340-300, A340-500 and A340-600. Providing extended operating ranges of up to 9,000 nautical miles, this product line allows operators to eliminate unproductive stops, open new routes and match service standards to targeted market needs on very long-haul segments.
Deliveries continue for the new-generation A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT)
Airbus Military has formally handed over the third A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), which is to receive a total of five of these advanced air-to-air tanker aircraft. Designated the KC-30A in RAAF service, Australia’s newest A330 MRTT was converted from an Airbus A330 jetliner airframe by Qantas Defence Services in Brisbane. The country’s no. 4 A330 MRTT will be delivered in December, with handover of the fifth aircraft scheduled for next year.
Tail section for Thai Airways International’s first A380 rolls out of paint shop
The vertical tail section for the first Thai Airways International (THAI) A380 has been painted with the airline’s orchid logo at Airbus facilities in Hamburg, Germany. The painting was completed over the weekend, and the section is now being prepared for shipment to Toulouse, France – where assembly of the aircraft is set to begin later this month. THAI will become the ninth A380 operator when it takes delivery of its first jetliner in the third quarter of 2012.
The Airbus Military A400M performs water ingestion tests
Airbus Military has successfully completed testing to demonstrate the new-generation A400M airlifter’s ability to operate on wet runways and taxiways without ingesting water into the engines. During these tests at Istres, France, the aircraft travelled through troughs containing 2-6 cm of water at speeds of up to 90kt in take-off and landing configurations, including operations with reverse thrust.