First Airbus A350 freighter parts produced

A350F Centre Wing Box vertical cruciform manufacturing. Photo: Airbus

Development of Airbus’ new A350 freighter aircraft is in full swing with the first parts for the Centre Wing Box (CWB) already produced at Airbus Atlantic in Nantes, France.

Airbus said in a press release on April 4 that the first metal-cuts for the A350F have taken place, “with the machining of the first parts for the Centre Wing Box (CWB)”.

“These parts include the ‘vertical cruciform’ – the massive fitting that joins the outer-wing boxes to the CWB.”

Airbus added: “The teams in Nantes have also produced the first external foot frames, which join the CWB to the lateral fuselage shells. Notably, the latter are modified on the A350F to support the loads from the freighter’s main-deck floor.”

The carbon-fibre CWB for the A350F features reinforced floor beams to support the heaviest pallets and containers which the A350F will transport.

Reinforcements “affect the internal CWB composite struts and the metallic (aluminium-lithium) structure on top of the upper composite CWB cover which supports the floor”, explained Airbus.

When complete, the CWB will measure 6.5 m long by 5.5 m wide by 3.9 m tall.

Airbus said: “Once the large CWB subassembly is ready for delivery in the coming months, it will be loaded on to a special transport jig and depart Nantes by road to reach Airbus Atlantic’s factory at Montoir-de-Bretagne.

“There it will be installed into the first A350F’s centre fuselage (both the centre and front fuselages of all A350s are assembled and equipped here). The resulting “major-component-assemblies” (MCAs) will subsequently be flown by Beluga from the adjacent Saint-Nazaire-Montoir Airport, directly to Airbus’ A350 Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Toulouse.”

The A350F has received 35 orders, comprising: four aircraft from CMA-CGM; seven aircraft from Air Lease Corporation; seven aircraft from Singapore Airlines; four from Air France; two from Silk Way West Airlines; seven from Etihad Airways; and four from Martinair.

Airbus Atlantic is Airbus’ new aerostructures company formed in January 2022 by the amalgamation of STELIA Aerospace and the Airbus factories at Nantes and Montoir-de-Bretagne (formerly known as the “Saint-Nazaire” site). 

Airbus A350F freighter. Photo: Airbus

Airbus A350F freighter. Photo: Airbus

Air France-KLM Group orders four A350 freighters

Silk Way West Airlines orders two Airbus A350Fs

Airbus secures A350 freighter launch customer

Singapore Airlines buys Airbus A350F freighters


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Rebecca Jeffrey

Rebecca Jeffrey
New to aviation journalism, I joined Air Cargo News in late 2021 as deputy editor. I previously worked for Mercator Media’s six maritime sector magazines as a reporter, heading up news for Port Strategy. Prior to this, I was editor for Recruitment International (now TALiNT International). Contact me on: [email protected]