Airbus has mated the rear fuselage sections of the first flight-test A350-900 prototype, ahead of the airframe's arrival on the final assembly line this summer.

The 20m (66ft) aft fuselage assembly comprises the Spanish-built rear barrel - manufactured at Getafe - and the rear passenger cabin manufactured in Germany.

Two German plants produce the rear cabin: the Premium Aerotec facility builds the two lateral panels while the upper and lower panels are built by Airbus's plant at Stade.

Rather than assembling the cabin and barrel separately, and then joining them, Airbus says it has adopted a different technique for the A350 mating.

"The rear fuselage barrel is used as a guide and support for assembling the four aft fuselage panels and floor grid," it says

This technique "optimises production efficiency and quality", the airframer adds.

Airbus says the aft fuselage sections, mated at Hamburg, will have systems and secondary structures installed before being transferred to the Toulouse final assembly line.

Final assembly of the first A350 - the static test aircraft - is set to begin next month, while the first flying example, to which this aft fuselage belongs, will follow in the summer as MSN1.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news