Airbus just provided a press release stating “After delivery of the first A350 XWB centre wing box to Airbus Saint-Nazaire on August 8th, Airbus Nantes has delivered the second major A350 XWB component manufactured on the site – the keel beam. The exceptional convoy, over 25 metres long, left the Nantes site for the Loire, to be loaded onto the barge that transported it to the Airbus Saint-Nazaire site.
The keel beam provides structural continuity to the fuselage at the landing gear compartment. The A350 XWB programme is the first programme in which the keel beam and the aft lower shell have been combined to form a single major component. This immense part, made out of 70% composites, is 16.5m long and 4.3m wide and weighs 1.2 tonnes. Its assembly in the Nantes factory required the use of 10,000 fasteners to join 2000 parts.”
This is what the part looks like. The A350 program is making steady progress. It also demonstrates Airbus’ ability to craft key parts within its own organization. As we have seen, supply chains are critical to new aircraft programs, and can add risk. Having critical parts sourced from within an organization clearly reduces risk because of tight oversight.