PICTURE: Airbus manufactures first structural component for A350

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Airbus has produced the first structural component for the A350 at its plant in Nantes, France.

The all-carbon centre wing-box panel has a surface area of 36sqm and required new technology at the factory to lay-up.

"The A350 is becoming real," says A350 programme head, Didier Evrard.

Once the panel is incorporated into the centre wing-box at Nantes it will be shipped to Airbus' Saint-Nazaire site for integration, before being installed on the first A350.

"This key milestone for the A350 programme has been made possible through Airbus' methodical and evolutionary approach to incorporating composites in its aircraft," says Fabrice Bregier, Airbus chief operating officer.

The Nantes factory will manufacture the A350's keel beam as well as its centre wing-box.

More than half of the A350 - by structural weight - is to be made from composite material.