Airbus has delivered the front fuselage for the first flyable A350 XWB (MSN1) to the Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Toulouse, France.
The impressive 21 metre long section is already equipped with its flight systems and was flown in from Airbus’ site in Saint-Nazaire (France) by the Airbus Beluga transport aircraft.
The Beluga (also known as the A300-600ST Super Transporter) was developed to carry complete sections of Airbus aircraft from different production sites around Europe to the final assembly lines in Toulouse or Hamburg. Its main-deck cargo volume is greater than the C5 Galaxy, the An-124 or the C-17 airlifter.
The five-aircraft fleet of Belugas is operated by Airbus Transport International (ATI). In addition to serving the internal transportation needs of Airbus, ATI offers Belugas on a charter basis to third parties. ATI ensures a high level of customer satisfaction with loading, unloading, and delivery designed to be fast, safe, flexible, and reliable – as demonstrated by years of successful operations throughout the world.
The A350 XWB front fuselage section will be mounted in the giant assembly jig ready to be joined with the centre and aft fuselage sections over the summer period. Before they are arrive at the FAL, the aircraft sections are equipped and pre-assembled at Airbus sites in the United Kingdom, Spain, France and Germany. All these major sections are transported to the FAL by the Beluga aircraft.
Orders for the A350 have been slow until the recent Farnborough Airshow when Cathay Pacific confirmed an order for 10 further aircraft and modified an earlier order. The airline has a total of 48 A350 aircraft on order with 26 being the larger 1000 version.