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SINGAPORE: Extra assembly stations to handle A350 ramp-up

Airbus has completed an extension of its final assembly line at Toulouse which will be used for A350 ramp-up and integration of the -1000 variant of the twinjet.

The extension incorporates three more assembly stations, including a new fuselage-join and wing-mating area.

All of the stations are designed to handle either the -900 or -1000 variant, giving the airframer the flexibility to adapt production.

Airbus confirmed completion of the Toulouse extension during the Singapore air show, some three years after it had started modifying the line.

It has created a third Station 50 zone, the initial point of the line, which handles the alignment and mating of the forward, centre and aft fuselage sections as they arrive from external manufacturing facilities.

Station 50 also handles the nose-gear and forward crew-rest installation, as well as aft galley fitting.

Airbus had four Station 40 zones – which deal with the wing mating as well as installation of the empennage, main landing-gear and engine pylons – but previously two of these had been acting as Station 30 points, where mechanical and electronic ground-testing normally takes place.

The extension means the A350 assembly line has four dedicated Station 40 zones as well as four Station 30s.

Airbus is increasing the A350 assembly capacity to meet its ambitious ramp-up target for the type, while having to cope with the continued production of the A330 as well as the A330neo – which has left the airframer unable to turn over the A330 line to A350 work.

With the new stations, the manufacturer believes it will be able to integrate production of the A350-1000 more easily. Joining of the initial fuselage sections of the first -1000, MSN59, commenced on 9 February.

Just a few days before, at the end of January, Airbus started operation with a new test rig for the -1000’s high-lift systems at its Bremen plant.

“Over the next few months, the interactions between structural parts such as flaps or spoilers and the electrical and hydraulic systems will be scrutinised,” says the airframer.

“The test rig, which will operate continuously throughout each day, will not only reproduce the conditions during regular flight operations, but it will also simulate all event cases that are theoretically possible.”

Following inauguration of the facility, says Airbus, the wings for the first -1000 – one of three test airframes – will be delivered from the Bremen facility “in the near future”.

Airbus is aiming to start -1000 deliveries in mid-2017. The airframer is ramping-up overall A350 production to a monthly rate of 10 aircraft in 2018. The company has previously indicated that a further A350 line extension could introduce a third Station 50 and fifth Station 30.

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