Airbus continued its excellence in widebody aircraft with the inauguration of the A350 XWB Final Assembly Line – an event that occurred 40 years after the maiden flight of its game-changing A300, which put the company on track to becoming a world-leading commercial airliner manufacturer. The inauguration, held inside this purpose-built L-shaped facility next to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in south-western France, marked a new industrial milestone in the A350 XWB programme. Airbus’ A350 XWB family is the latest expansion of a jetliner product line that traces its roots to the widebody A300 – which performed the maiden flight from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport on 28 October, 1972. While the A300 entered its final assembly phase with one booking for a small number of aircraft, the initial build-up of A350 XWBs comes as this aircraft has amassed a record 558 firm orders from 34 customers to date. Airbus Chief Operating Officer Günter Butschek said final assembly of a third A350 XWB is to begin before year-end, with the programme’s production rate ramping up to a targeted 10 aircraft per month by late 2018.