Airbus yesterday, commenced construction of the A350 XWB (eXtra Wide Body) Final Assembly Line (FAL), completing the second key milestone towards delivering the aircraft in 2013 to launch customer Qatar Airways.
Last month Airbus froze the design for the jetliner’s first family member – the A350-900, allowed Airbus teams to begin component-level work, and preparing for the production of tooling and parts.
Didier Evrard, Airbus’ Head of the A350 XWB programme said the A350 XWB is on track for its commercial service entry in 2013.
Final assembly of the A350 is slated to begin in 2011. The 74,000 square metre, €140 million ($184 million) FAL facility will be adjacent to the existing A320 and A330/A340 production lines, and will deliver significant efficiencies to the Airbus’ production process when it is delivered in the third quarter of 2010.
The FAL will have a capacity of more than 10 A350s per month. Designed to provide a highly eco-efficient workspace, the building will produce about 55 per cent of its own energy using 22,000 square metres of roof-mounted solar panels, while also applying the maximum use of natural lighting.
Airbus is radically optimising its production process in the new FAL. The new assembly process will reduce the time from the start of final assembly to delivery to around 2.5 months, a 30 per cent reduction compared to the existing A330/A340 process. Airbus will commence the cabin furnishing earlier in the process in parallel with final assembly.
At present production is sequenced so that structural assembly is followed by power-on and then the aircraft moves to another station for interior installation and completion. On the A350, power-on will occur ahead of wing join-up, allowing cabin integration to begin in parallel with the remainder of the assembly process.
Once assembly and initial cabin installation is complete, aircraft will move to the existing A330/A340 furnishing building for the remainder of the cabin equipping process and aircraft testing.
This video animation should give you a better idea.
See the Airbus A350 XWB mini-site for full coverage of the A350 XWB final assembly line’s ground-breaking ceremony.