Work under way on all A350-1000 test aircraft

Airbus has commenced work on all three development aircraft for the A350-1000 test campaign, as it expects to begin final assembly in the first quarter of next year.

Head of A350 programme developments Bruno Hernandez says that the -1000 is “on track” but acknowledges that bringing the components together to meet the final assembly schedule is “very challenging”.

Work is under way on the centre wing-box, he says, not only for the first development aircraft but also the second and third.

The rear spar, supplied by GKN Aerospace, entered assembly on 12 May.

Speaking during a briefing in Toulouse, Hernandez said US firm Spirit AeroSystems had begun manufacturing panels for the central section 15.

Assembly of the forward fuselage section 13-14 door surrounds – which will be composite, rather than the -900’s metallic ones – is also progressing, he says: “[This] concept is fully mature.”

Hernandez says structural design maturity has been achieved and systems installation architecture is complete, adding that -1000 production work has started “in all the plants”.

Pylon assembly is under way while the type’s Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 powerplant will begin a 120h test campaign on the A380 in October.

The aircraft, while essentially a stretch of the -900, will incorporate a number of aerodynamic and structural differences – including a six-wheel main landing-gear and a larger trailing edge.

It will also have several other enhancements including greater use of composites in the fuselage frames and pylon, and electric landing-gear doors.

Airbus’s latest specification data lists the -1000 as a 366-seat aircraft with a range of 7.950nm