The first major section of the A380 – the centre wingbox – was unveiled today on the Airbus site of Nantes where it was produced. From a technical point of view, the structure, a key section of the aircraft located at the junction between the wings and the fuselage, is a world’s first, with over 40% carbon fibre and a total weight of around 11 tonnes.

This major industrial milestone was celebrated with a ceremony chaired by Gérard Blanc, Airbus Executive Vice President, Programmes, and Gérard Lignon, Director of the site of Nantes, and was attended by many local dignitaries of the Loire-Atlantique political and economic scene, representatives of the main European Airbus sites and all the teams of Nantes.

Addressing himself to an audience of some two thousand people, Gérard Blanc pointed out that the A380 programme, launched in December 2000, was rapidly taking shape thanks to the shared expertise of all Airbus skills around Europe, a worldwide network of industrial partners and suppliers, and a highly positive response from airlines. To date, the A380 order book stands at 129 aircraft.

"Many strategic and industrial factors, as well as a high degree of individual and team efforts have led to the success of Airbus, for which we have every reason to be satisfied, but not complacent. We must focus resolutely, thoroughly and relentlessly on the work that lies ahead of us, bearing in mind the difficult economic environment. Success is not the result of chance, nor is the future the result of habit" concluded Gérard Blanc.

The first A380 centre wingbox will be conveyed on 23 August to Saint-Nazaire for integration with the aircraft components produced on the site. It will then be delivered to the final assembly line in Toulouse in the spring of 2004.