The first 21-meter-long front fuselage section for the Airbus A350 XWB has begun to take shape in Saint-Nazaire, France, where mechanics have begun joining the forward fuselage and nose sections, the European manufacturer announced today. The exercise will continue over the “coming weeks,” said Airbus. Once it completes the body join, the company plans to send the finished component via Beluga transport to the A350 XWB final assembly line in Toulouse.
The forward fuselage section, built by Germany’s Premium Aerotec, joins directly with the nose section, already assembled at Airbus in Saint-Nazaire from components produced by France’s Aerolia.
Airbus plans to use the assembly in the program’s static test airframe–the first A350 XWB scheduled for construction. The first “flyable” airframe for MSN1, one of the five flight-test aircraft Airbus plans to build, will follow closely behind, said the company. It will use the static airframe solely for ground tests meant to demonstrate the aircraft’s ability to sustain certification loads and provide key data ahead of the first flight in the first half of 2013.