The first Airbus A350-1000 has started final assembly on schedule in Toulouse. The jet, one of three flight test aircraft being built, is due to make its maiden flight before the year end. To ensure the smooth integration of the -1000 onto the final assembly line (FAL) while -900 production is ramping-up, Airbus has added three additional stations. For maximum flexibility, all stations can be used for the construction of both models.
The first components have arrived at ‘Station 50’ where the fuselage barrels are joined and the nose landing gear is installed. Next, it will move to ‘Station 40’ where the wings, main landing gear, pylons and tail planes will be added. The aircraft continues through the FAL process, where final structural components are added and ground testing begins. Painting, cabin and cockpit completion and engine installation follows before the finished aircraft is transferred to the flight test centre. Airbus will also start the cabin furnishing and first electrical power-on in parallel to the structural assembly work.
The manufacturer says the A350-1000 has “a high degree of commonality” with the shorter -900, but at nearly 242ft 5in (73.78m) from nose to tail it’s 23ft (6.98m) longer. The latest variant of the A350 XWB will be powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97s, the most powerful engines developed for an Airbus aircraft. So far, the company has sold 181 A350-1000s to ten customers, with deliveries scheduled to start in mid-2017.