The Advanced Composites Centre in Illescas, Spain has become the latest Airbus facility to begin production of components for its new A350 XWB jetliner.
This milestone was marked recently by the official unveiling of two key A350 XWB elements: the wing lower cover and fuselage Section 19.
The wing lower cover is one of the major technological challenges undertaken by Airbus in recent years. At 32 metres long and seven metres wide – with a surface area of 100 square metres – the wing lower cover is one of the largest carbon fibre components ever built by the aeronautics industry for either civil or military applications. In addition, its double curvature must meet extremely precise tolerances.
Fuselage Section 19 of the A350 XWB is an equally impressive component. It is more than 5.5 metres long – with a diameter of over four metres at its widest point, where it connects to the adjoining section – and its total surface area is 53 square metres.
The A350 XWB is a new family of widebody airliners composed of the A350-800, A350-900 and A350-1000 versions. It is one of most successful commercial aircraft programmes ever, as a total of 558 firm orders already have been received from 34 customers worldwide.
With an airframe made of 53 percent lightweight carbon fibre composites, the A350 offers major fuel-saving potential for its operators. Final assembly of the no. 1 aircraft – an A350-900 – is scheduled to start in 2011, with first delivery expected in 2013.