Since September, structural parts for the first two A350-900s have traversed the Atlantic ocean and the European continent on their way through Airbus's most distributed commercial supply chain.
Monday, Spirit AeroSystems delivered its first center fuselage from its St. Nazaire, France facility to Airbus's facility pre-final assembly next door. The handover marked the first time on a new Airbus aircraft that a non-EADS company has supplied major structure for a first unit.
Following the build-up of parts and their transition from the airframer's wholly-owned and independent structural suppliers has at times been challenging, while understanding the sequencing of the aircraft's early production.
With the static test airframe, MSN5000, scheduled to be the first A350 to enter final assembly later this quarter, the first deliveries by Spirit, Aerolia and Premium Aerotec to Airbus were in fact MSN1, which will be the first A350-900 to fly.
Airbus and Spirit confirmed yesterday that while the first forward fuselage section to arrive in Toulouse for final assembly was for MSN5000, as noted last month, that structure was delivered is actually the second to pass through the St. Nazaire site after the first deliveries of parts for MSN1.
The reason, explained Airbus, is MSN1 will spend longer in pre-final assembly for systems installation and says MSN5000's passing the first A350 to fly on its way to Toulouse is "fully in accordance with the planning."
Flight deck structure (Section 11-12) from Aerolia was delivered in September, followed by transfer of the MSN1 center fuselage panels (Section 15) from Kinston, North Carolina to Spirit's St. Nazaire facility in October and the first forward barrel (Section 13-14) from Premium Aerotec in November to Hamburg for systems installation. This page incorrectly noted that those deliveries had been for MSN5000 and have since been corrected.
The second shipments from Aerolia and Premium Aerotec for MSN5000 were joined together in early December before the end of the month handover to Toulouse. The Premium Aerotec Section 13-14 for MSN5000 bypassed Hamburg for systems installation completely as they weren't required for the static airframe.
Spirit's second unit, MSN5000 or ES, has begun partial build up in St. Nazaire, the aerostructures manufacturer explains:
The Crown Panel, Left Lateral Panel and Right Lateral Panel (also known as the Upper Shell when assembled) for MSN5000 have been shipped to Spirit's St. Nazaire assembly center and is in work there. The Forward Lower Shell and Left and Right Lateral Junction Panels for MSN5000 are still in Kinston and will ship to our St. Nazaire facility later this month.
Further, MSN1's Section 19, the A350's tail cone, was shipped in December from Getafe, Spain to Hamburg for build up with the Section 16-18 panels. That aft section's side panels and floor grids are fabricated by Premium Aerotec and shipped to EADS in Hamburg for integration, but it is not known if they have been delivered.
Photos Credit Spirit AeroSystems & Airbus