August 2012

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Photo of Note: Airbus A350 and Boeing 787, side-by-side

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 XWB
When A350 began assembly yesterday, the released photos from Airbus allowed for the first time a side-by-side comparison between the first two majority composite jetliners. On the left is ZA001 from May 2007, then a largely unfinished 787 and on the right is the A350 static test airframe. Most notably the overall architectural differences between Boeing's monolithic barrel and Airbus's hybrid composite and aluminum-lithium panel design are clearly illustrated with the A350's different material color compared to that of the 787.

Another photo, or rather an excerpt of a photo, that deserves a note is a part of the A350's design that has gone undiscussed by Airbus and previously unseen is the aluminum-lithium side-of-body rib for the aircraft's center wing box. Shaped in an isogrid pattern rather than the spar and stiffener design used on the A380, the A350's rib 1 design is intended to reduce weight and assembly time as it is a single machined part rather than a collect of web, spar caps and stiffeners fastened together. It's a first for an Airbus commercial aircraft.

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