Leeham News is being followed the A350s production through the assembly stations over the last two years. The time that each aircraft spends at the FAL stations gives a good picture of the production readiness of the program because any non-maturity of the sections or traveled work means more work packages have to be completed at FAL and more time spent in the troublesome stations.
These graphs shows how the FAL has performed since the first test aircraft MSN1 entered FAL in July 2012.
It can seen how gradually the FAL time has gone down from 300 days to (Leeham News´ prognosis of) 220 days for the last prototype, MSN5.
To make the FAL time graph more readable, they have added 20 respective 10 days of cabin installation days at S30 and S20 for MSN4, which does not have a cabin nor a heavy instrumentation fit. Without this addition, it would have been difficult to see the trend for other MSN4 stations.
Conclusions drawn by Leeham News are:
The A350 FAL shortens the assembly times in the different stations monotonously. This shows an early learning curve and the diminishing level of elaborate test instrumentation installations. It also shows a low level of FAL dramas, i.e. traveled work or parts that does not fit.
MSN5 is the first serial like aircraft with virtually no test instrumentation. Its FAL time is a good yardstick for the time MSN6, the first A350 for Qatar, will spend in FAL.
With added test time for final inspection and delivery to Qatar, the predicted time for delivery is still ahead of the communicated times of December (Airbus) and November or October (Qatar).
“From the above it is clear Airbus has built in margins for any delays in certification or delivery issues with the first EIS A350 for Qatar. One can also see that Airbus should be able to deliver an additional 3 aircraft before the year draws to a close if things run to plan.”