Airbus has started the final assembly of the first Airbus A318 at its Hamburg facility. The A318 is the smallest member of the Airbus family and complements the product range in the lower market segment. To start the final assembly, the forward and aft fuselage sections were positioned in the first work station and joined during the so-called “join-up” at Airbus’ final assembly facility in Hamburg.
The A318 joins the A321 and A319 in being assembled at Airbus’ other final assembly and delivery centre besides Toulouse. To be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW6000 engines or by CFM International CFM56 engines the aircraft can accommodate 107 passengers in a two-class layout, and has a range of up to 3,250 nm/6,000 km. It will offer the same passenger comfort, the same high technical standards and operating efficiency as the other members of the Airbus Single Aisle Family.
In addition to shorter fuselage, the A318 features a vertical stabilizer which is 75 cm higher than the rest of the Single Aisle Family and provides better lateral stability. Also, for the first time on an airliner, the stabilizing stringers were not riveted to parts of the fuselage shells but welded by laser beam, a procedure for which Airbus had received the “Innovation Award of the German Industry” in 1999. The advantages: quicker manufacture, less weight and a reduced danger of corrosion.
136 firm orders have already been placed for the A318. The first flight is scheduled for January 2002, with entry into service at the end of 2002.
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