August 08, 2012
Airbus completed assembly of the first wing box destined for the first flying Airbus A350, MSN1. The milestone is significant because Airbus has been forced to delay deliveries of the A350 by up to three months and into the second half of 2014 because of problems in wing manufacturing. The wings for the first two aircraft–the fatigue test specimen and MSN1–had to undergo manual drilling as software development for the automatic process planned during serial production lagged behind. Airbus says the problem has meanwhile been resolved, but there will be a schedule impact on first deliveries.
The 32-meter-long structure came off the jigs on Monday at the Airbus wing plant in Broughton, U.K. It will now undergo subassembly work and systems installation and will then be shipped to Bremen, where the high lift system is added.
The wing box is essentially the core structure of the aircraft’s entire wing without the movable flight surfaces.
The first pair of wings for MSN1 is expected to arrive at the Toulouse final assembly line in September and is expected to be mated with the fuselage in October. It is only at that stage that Airbus plans to reconfirm the schedule for the A350’s first flight, which is now still planned for the first half of 2013. To speed up the process of flap installation in Bremen, Airbus has built a physical mock-up of the wing for technicians to rehearse the process before the first actual wing arrives.