Airbus continued its excellence in widebody aircraft with today’s inauguration of the A350 XWB Final Assembly Line – an event that occurred 40 years after the maiden flight of its game-changing A300, which put the company on track to becoming a world-leading commercial airliner manufacturer.
Today’s inauguration, held inside this purpose-built L-shaped facility next to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in south-western France, marked a new industrial milestone in the A350 XWB programme. The event was attended by more than 1,000 representatives from customers, suppliers and partners, along with elected officials and other invitees – who were joined by an equal number of Airbus employees, many waving A350 XWB flags.
Airbus’ A350 XWB Family is the latest expansion of a jetliner product line that traces its roots to the widebody A300 – which performed the maiden flight from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport on 28 October, 1972. While the A300 entered its final assembly phase with one booking for a small number of aircraft, the initial build-up of A350 XWBs comes as this aircraft has amassed a record 558 firm orders from 34 customers to date.
“The A350 carries forward a widebody heritage that began with the A300, and it represents Airbus’ future in possibly the most competitive industry on Earth,” said Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier in a speech at the inauguration. “I thank everyone in the teams for such great work, as they are not just building the A350; they are building the future of Airbus.”
Today’s event underscored the A350 XWB programme’s progress, as it spotlighted the build-up status in the final assembly hall for the jetliner’s first two airframes. The first is a static test airframe sized as an A350-900, and it is to be used for ground-based structural evaluations. It is at the final assembly line’s Station 40 – with the complete fuselage assembled, along with installation of the wings and vertical tail plane. At the adjacent Station 50 is the no. 1 aircraft being built for flight – also an A350-900 version – with its fuselage already joined, and now ready for mating of the wings, as well as vertical and horizontal tail planes in the coming weeks.
As the jetliner family’s middle family member, the A350-900 accommodates 314 passengers in a typical three-class configuration. The longer-fuselage A350-1000 version seats 350, while the shortest – the A350-800 – has a capacity of 270 passengers. All of these mid-size widebody aircraft bring together Airbus expertise in design, aerodynamics, materials and advanced systems for a highly efficient, eco-friendly jetliner series with true long-range capabilities.
In addressing today’s inaugural ceremony crowd, Airbus Chief Operating Officer Günter Butschek said final assembly of a third A350 XWB is to begin before year-end, with the programme’s production rate ramping up to a targeted 10 aircraft per month by late 2018.
• For additional information, visit the dedicated website for the A350 XWB Final Assembly Line inauguration.