Airbus Rolls Out The Biggest Carbon Fuselage Panel For A350 XWB Aircraft


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Airbus Rolls Out The Biggest Carbon Fuselage Panel For A350 XWB Aircraft

Steve Hall

March 19, 2011 - Airbus partner, Premium AEROTEC, has successfully completed the curing of the largest A350 XWB fuselage panel made from carbon fiber at its site in Nordenham (Germany).  

Located on the forward right-hand side of the fuselage and measuring 93 square meters, the panel will undergo ultrasonic inspection, trimming and drilling in the coming days prior to being joined with the other panels that together will become the forward fuselage (Section 13-14). 

Airbus opted for large fuselage panels for the A350 XWB design as they can be tailored in terms of their thickness according to the different loads required at each part of the airframe. This approach enables Airbus to optimize the airframe overall which results in enhanced performance, greater robustness and less weight. 

The Airbus A350 is long-range, mid-size, wide-body family of jet airliners under development by Airbus. The A350 will be the first Airbus with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer. It will carry 270 to 350 passengers in three-class seating, depending on variant.

The A350 is being designed to compete with the Boeing 777 and the Boeing 787. Airbus says that it will be more fuel-efficient, with up to 8% lower operating cost than the Boeing 787.

The launch customer for the A350 is Qatar Airways, which ordered 80 aircraft of all three variants. Development costs are projected to be US$15 billion (?12 billion or ?10 billion). The airliner is scheduled to enter into airline service during the second half of 2013. TAM Airlines, and Singapore Airlines are also to be among the first airlines to operate it.

In 2010, A350 XWB production got underway and significant progress was made at Airbus and its partners? sites around the world. Highlights at Airbus sites include, in Illescas (Spain) the production start of the lower wing cover and also the barrel for the rear fuselage section.


In Stade (Germany) production of the upper wing cover started. In Nantes (France) assembly of the centre wing box and production of the keel beam got underway. In Filton (UK), the Landing Gear Systems Test Facility was opened. 

At Airbus? A350 XWB partner sites, significant progress was also made. Key achievements include, the completion of the first crown panel for the centre fuselage (longest panel at 19.7 m at Spirit AeroSystems in Kinston, USA), and the curing of the crown panel for the forward fuselage section (Premium AEROTEC in Nordenham, Germany).


The A350 XWB Family consists of three passenger versions with true long-range capability of flying up to 8500nm/15,580km. In a typical three-class configuration, the A350-800 will offer 270 seats while the A350-900 and the A350-1000 will offer 314 and 350 seats respectively.

All members of the family can be configured for higher density layouts, the -1000 for up to 440 seats. The baseline model, the A350-900?s design was frozen in December 2008 and is progressing towards entry-into-service in the second half of 2013.

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