Airbus' A350 XWB programme has transitioned from concept to reality with the achievement of two key milestones: today's construction start-up for the A350 final assembly line, and last month's design freeze for the jetliner's first family member - the A350-900.
"Starting from a clean sheet of paper two years ago, the A350 XWB has clearly entered a new phase," said Didier Evrard, Airbus' Head of the A350 XWB programme. "In addition to today's groundbreaking ceremony for the final assembly facility, the A350's design freeze in December has allowed our teams to begin component-level work, and we are preparing for the production of tooling and the manufacturing of parts."
Evrard said the A350 XWB is on track for its commercial service entry in 2013, providing a family of new medium-capacity jetliners with long-range route capabilities that offers extra wide-body comfort for passengers, plus new levels of operating efficiency for airlines.
Today's groundbreaking ceremony signalled the start of a major construction project that will enable the final assembly of A350s to begin in 2011. This 74,000 square metre facility joins other Airbus final assembly lines in Toulouse, France, where the company already builds its A380, A330/A340 and A320 Family aircraft.
Located in an existing Airbus industrial zone on the southwest side of Toulouse Blagnac Airport, the A350 XWB's final assembly facility will use an estimated 8,000-10,000 cubic metres of existing materials from its construction site - including the recycling of a former taxiway that currently is being broken up and crushed for reuse.
The final assembly line will have a parallel work flow capacity of more than 10 A350s per month. Designed to provide a highly eco-efficient workspace, the building will produce an estimated 55 per cent of its own energy by using 22,000 square metres of roof-mounted solar panels, while also applying the maximum use of natural lighting.
"When the A350's assembly process begins in 2011, this site will represent a 140 million euro investment as the cornerstone of an extended enterprise that brings together some of the finest talents, skills and the most innovative minds that we have in Airbus - and at our suppliers worldwide," said Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders at today's groundbreaking event.
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