Airbus has started joining the first 21-metre long front fuselage section for its A350XWB.
Once completed in the coming weeks, the fuselage will be transported by Beluga from Airbus’s facility in Sant-Nazaire, France, to the A350 final assembly line in Toulouse. The fuselage will be the first major section of the A350 to enter the final assembly line.
The fuselage is destined for the A350XWB static test airframe, which will be the first A350 assembled. That will be followed closely by assembly of the first flyable airframe for MSN1, one of five planned A350 test aircraft.
The twin engine A350 is slated to compete with Boeing’s 777 and 787 airliners. Airbus announced delays in production of the aircraft in November, saying it would begin deliveries in the first half of 2014.
Airbus says it has a backlog of more than 550 orders for A350 aircraft.