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Airbus announced today its structural assembly of the first A350 XWB aft fuselage destined for the first flying A350 XWB (MSN1) has been completed at its manufacturing site in Hamburg. The fuselage section will now undergo its secondary interior structural assembly and system installation before being delivered to the A350 XWB FAL in Toulouse.Airbus says it developed an innovative process for assembling this part of the A350 XWB fuselage which optimizes production efficiency and quality. The rear fuselage barrel is used as a guide and support for assembling the four aft fuselage panels (two lateral, one upper, one lower) and floor grid which together form the aft fuselage. This assembly method differs from other Airbus programs where the panels and floor grid are first assembled into a full barrel, to which the rear fuselage section is subsequently joined.

This part is 20m long and the new manufacturing process is apparently better-adapted to joining the full-barrel rear fuselage section with the large fuselage shells of the A350 XWB, and this provides optimum production efficiency and  quality.

We note with great interest how Airbus provides program information. Rather than the method used by Boeing on the 787 for a while, with regular conference calls every 90 days, Airbus sends out a picture and words to describe what one is seeing. Boeing canceled the calls as the 787 program ran into repeated delays. Doing these calls must have been agony for the 787 team. The analysts’ questions were forthright and touched every nerve.

By providing information in this measured and controlled way, Airbus sends a signal that it is making progress, without the ability for analysts to probe.

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