Video 1 Spirit AeroSystems St. Nazaire site vice president and general manager Dan Wheeler. Video 2 Spirit AeroSystems senior manager Jeff Russell
An Antonov An-124 landed at Kinston Regional Airport in North Carolina yesterday, preparing for a special delivery from Spirit AeroSystems. The massive Russian cargo jet will transport composite panels that will make up the first center fuselage of the A350-900 as early as today, says a source familiar with the plan. The panels will be flown to the company’s new St. Nazaire, France facility, where they will be built-up to create the aircraft’s Section 15 barrel of MSN1.
Already awaiting the arrival of the panels is the aircraft’s center wing box, which was delivered to the Airbus St. Nazaire site on August 9. Once complete, Section 15 will move to Airbus next door for mating with the lower shell, center wing box and keel beam.
While no less of a complex supply chain compared to Boeing’s 787 operations, St. Nazaire serves an integration supersite, that will bring together the completed center section components before being flown to Toulouse aboard the A300-600ST Beluga. Despite being completely separate entities, Airbus has opted for a supersite model that places its supplier’s operation in the same area as its own activities. Notably, Spirit is the only major structural supplier on the A350 that is not either Airbus itself or one of its subsidiaries.
Video and Graphic Credit Spirit AeroSystems