The forward fuselage of the new Airbus A350 XWB composite airliner has been delivered to the factory. This particular airframe – MSN5000 – will never fly, but it’s still a milestone for Airbus’ first airliner made largely of composite materials. MSN5000 will be used for ground testing to confirm the strength of the composite paneled airframe and wing structures. It’s in line just ahead of MSN001, which is slated to be the first flying airframe.
The wide-body airliner is slightly larger than the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, but instead of having a large composite tube for a fuselage, the A350 uses composite panels attached to an aluminum frame. The plane will use a composite wing with a span of more than 219 feet, compared to 197 feet for the 787.
Based on size and seating, the A350 competes more closely with the Boeing 777. That said, it’s often compared to the Dreamliner because of its extensive use of composite materials. Like the Dreamliner, the new Airbus will provide substantial fuel savings thanks to the new designs and new engines.
Because the various A350 components are manufactured throughout Europe, Airbus uses a heavily modified A330 known as the “Beluga” to transport sections of the wings and airframe.
The forward fuselage of MSN5000 is expected to be joined with the center fuselage section early next year in Toulouse, France. Like other new designs, the finished airplane will be tested and tortured to validate the strength and longevity of the structures and systems.
Like the Boeing 787, the A350 has been hit with some delays, though the first flight of an A350 is expected in 2014.
Source : Autopia