Airbus has added three new A350 stations at its Toulouse facility as the manufacturer begins final assembly of the first of three A350-1000 flight test aircraft while it increases production of the A350-900.
The first A350-1000 has entered the final assembly line and is expected to begin test flights before the end of 2016, Airbus said in a statement on February 10 (European time). First delivery was slated for mid-2017 to A350-1000 launch customer Qatar Airways.
The Doha-based oneworld alliance member was also the inaugural operator of the A350-900.
Airbus said the three new stations comprised a third “Station 50” where the forward, centre and aft fuselage sections were joined, along with installation of the nose landing gear; a fourth “Station 40” where the wing-fuselage junction and tailplane were installed; and a fourth “Station 30” where ground test are performed and cabin interiors fitted.
All final assembly stations were able to work on both the A350-900 and larger A350-1000.
“As a further measure for accommodating concurrent A350-900 and A350-1000 production, Airbus is increasing the number of A350 XWB final assembly line employees from its current level – approximately 1,500 – to some 1,900 by 2018,” Airbus said in a statement.
The Rolls Royce Trent XWB-97 engines that will power the A350-1000 began flying in November 2015 on Airbus’s A380 flying test bed.
Airbus said it has secured orders for 181 A350-1000s from 10 customers.
The company has said previously it expected to deliver 50 A350-900s in 2016, compared with 14 of the type delivered in 2015.