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Airbus begins manufacuturing A350 XWB structure

Airbus has produced the first structural component for the A350 XWB at its plant in Nantes, France. The all-carbon centre wingbox panel has a surface area of 36m2 (388ft2) and required new technology at the factory to lay-up.

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

The panel will be incorporated into the centre wingbox at Nantes and then shipped to Airbus's 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's 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 wingbox.

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

Final assembly of the first A350 is due to begin in early 2011, with its maiden flight scheduled to follow around 12 months later.

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