Airbus Nantes delivers first A350XWB center wing box to St. Nazaire

 - August 9, 2011, 7:20 AM

Airbus has delivered the first center wing box for the A350XWB from its site in Nantes, France to St. Nazaire, France, where engineers will attach it to the first A350XWB fuselage. Forty percent of the wing box, which measures some 21 feet by 18 feet and stands nearly 13 feet tall, is made from plastics reinforced with carbon fiber.

Loaded on to a custome-designed transport jig, the wing box left Nantes by river barge, together with an A380 center wing box, traveling along the Loire River to reach St Nazaire a few hours later. Once the new subassembly takes shape, an Airbus Beluga will then fly it from St. Nazaire to the company’s new A350XWB final assembly line in Toulouse, France.

“This is a great milestone and marks a significant step forwards for the A350XWB program, as we get closer to the start of final assembly of the first aircraft,” said Didier Evrard, head of the A350 XWB program. “The delivery of the first A350 XWB center wing box is the result of the team’s shear hard work, expertise in the design and manufacturing of complex, large composite structures and their strong commitment to deliver to our customers on time and on quality.”

The first composite lay-up for the A350XWB took place in Nantes in December 2009. The wing box’s largest panels, made entirely of carbon fiber, cover a surface area of 36 square meters (387.5 square feet), making them the largest “monobloc” composite panels ever manufactured in Nantes.