MIAMI — The first Airbus A350-1000 is being assembled on the Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Toulouse, France. The jetliner, the first of three flight test aircraft to be built, will take to the skies for its maiden flight before the end of 2016, and deliveries are expected to start by the second quarter of 2017.

Currently, the fuselage sections are being joined in Station 50, where the nose gear fitting will also take place. Thereafter, the aircraft will be moved to Station 40 for wing mating and the installation of the main landing gear, pylons and tail planes.

According to Airbus,  the cabin furnishing and first electrical power-on is carried out in parallel to the structural assembly work. After this stage is completed, the aircraft continues through the FAL process, with final structural activities, ground tests, painting, cabin & cockpit completion and engines installation before being transferred to the flight test center.

To date, Airbus has secured orders for 181 aircraft, from 10 customers. Launch customer is set to be Qatar Airways, which also was the launch customer for the -900 variant. Other major A350-1000 customers are United Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad and British Airways.

The A350-1000 is the longest fuselage version of the A350 family aircraft, and is to seat 366 passengers in a standard three-class layout over 8,000 nautical miles (14,800km). Intended to replace the Airbus A340-600, the A350-1000 comes also as a competitor to the Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 777X.

The A350-1000 will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines, which, so far, is the most powerful engine developed for an Airbus aircraft.