Airbus has commenced final assembly of the first A350, the static airframe, at its line in Toulouse following delivery of the centre fuselage.
The airframer has started mating this centre fuselage, which is 19.7m (64.6ft) long, with the 21m forward fuselage section.
Initial assembly of the forward, centre and aft sections will take place at the 'Station 50' point at the Toulouse facility.
Airbus received the centre fuselage from its St Nazaire facility on 4 April, while the forward fuselage - having been joined with the cockpit at St Nazaire - was delivered to Toulouse last December.
Delivery and installation of the aft fuselage, which is coming from Hamburg, will take place in the next few weeks, says Airbus, followed by wings from the UK plant at Broughton.
Airbus had been aiming to begin final assembly in the first quarter of this year, but parent EADS admitted last month that the process would slip into early April.
At Station 50 the nose-gear will also be attached to the fuselage, before the assembly is transported to Station 40 for wing and tail assembly. Cabin installation will be conducted in parallel with wing-fuselage mating and electrical power-on.
"In this way, functional tests can start earlier than on previous programmes," says Airbus. Final assembly of the first flying prototype, MSN1, is scheduled to begin during the summer.