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First Flyable A350 XWB, MSN1 Structurally Completes First Journey On Wheels
By Daniel Baxter

December 6, 2012 - Airbus has successfully completed the main structural assembly and system connection of A350 XWB ‘MSN1’, the first flight-test aircraft.

The aircraft is depicted here on its wheels for the very first time moving out of the main assembly hall (Station 40) at the recently inaugurated “Roger Béteille” A350 XWB Final Assembly Line in Toulouse. It then entered the adjacent indoor ground test station (Station 30).  

The assembly work performed in Station 40 included the successful electrical power-on of the aircraft's entire fuselage and wings. Soon work in Station 30 will start by testing the aircraft's hydraulic system, followed by the full electric and hydraulic power-on of the aircraft which will be completed by around the end of the year. This will mark the start of several weeks of comprehensive functional system testing.  

After the A350 XWB MSN1 exits station 30, the aircraft will go through a series of extensive production and certification / development tests, be painted and have its engines installed. It will then be delivered to the flight-line and be readied for its first flight in mid-2013. 

The Airbus A350 is a family of long-range, wide-body jet airliners under development by European aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The A350 will be the first Airbus with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer. It will carry 250 to 350 passengers in three-class seating, depending on variant. 

The A350 was born as an A330-derived minimum-changed competitor to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the larger Boeing 777, but was unanimously rejected by prospective customers. Airbus was forced to redesign the initial proposal, but airlines voiced support for a complete overhaul. The eventual proposal incorporates major changes, which Airbus says will be more fuel-efficient, with up to 8% lower operating cost than the Boeing 787.

The redesigned A350 was marketed by Airbus as the A350 XWB, where the XWB stands for Extra Wide Body. The launch customer for the A350 is Qatar Airways, which ordered 80 aircraft across the three variants. Development costs are projected to be US$15 billion.The airliner is scheduled to enter airline service in mid 2014.


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