Airbus reveals latest A350 developments

Toulouse
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Airbus has revealed that its first cabin-fitted A350-900 development aircraft will be configured with 252 seats in two classes.

Five development aircraft are being constructed for the programme and two of them will have an interior cabin fit.

A350 programme head Didier Evrard showed that aircraft MSN2 would be equipped with 42 business-class seats in a 1-2-1 layout.

It would also be configured with 210 economy-class seats, nine-abreast, in a 3-3-3 layout.

The second cabin-fitted example will be MSN5.

Airbus's first static example has been wheeled out at Toulouse as a full nose-to-tail fuselage, and Evrard says that attention is turning to transferring the first flight-test aircraft, MSN1, to the final assembly line.

The airframer still has to "de-risk the wing and the junction of the wing", he states, but says results from the static airframe fuselage join have proven promising.

Evrard says MSN1 is "on track" and the first flight will be "close to the middle of next year", as the airframer bids to keep entry into service to the first half of 2014 - although Evrard says that service entry will be "closer to the middle of 2014 than to the beginning".

The company accepted the first set of doors for MSN1 on 23 May. Upper and lower wing-cover drilling for the aircraft has started at the UK's Broughton plant. Evrard admits that progress on the wing is "a little bit handicapped" by the learning process for the new drilling system, but he says it will allow the company to achieve the production rates needed for the A350 line.

MSN1's horizontal stabiliser is "almost ready to ship" and will arrive at the final assembly line in June or July, he says, while equipment installation for MSN1 is "very well advanced".