Home' Asian Aviation : AAV March 2011. Contents 34 AsianAviation | MARCH 2011
crown panels at Premium Aerotec in Germany. In
January, the European Commission authorised a 129
million euro (US$174 million) reimbursable loan to
Spain's Aernnova to develop the A350's tailplane.
Last November, Airbus began construction of the
rst 18 CFRP rear-fuselage 'Section 19' barrel in
Spain, where production of the rst yable lower wing
skin (or "cover" in Airbus parlance) began almost
simultaneously. Other recent work starts include that
of the upper wing cover in Germany, assembly of the
rst centre wingbox, and production of the rst keel
beam in France. In the UK, the landing-gear systems
test facility has opened and hydraulic pressurisation
of the Iron Bird took place at the end of December.
To support its aim for a high level of maturity
at ser vice entry, Airbus is using component
demonstrators as it moves from the "virtual" world
of the A350 digital mock-up (DMU) to the reality
of manufacture. For the rst time, Airbus has built
a full-scale cabin and fuselage mock-up, on which
suppliers and partners can test and optimise systems
A three-part, full-scale CFRP fuselage section that
includes a composite door is being used to con rm
manufacturing and assembly techniques for the
material, as well as fatigue and damage tolerance
properties. For systems ground-testing, Airbus has
begun to install functional integration benches at
a site near Toulouse. Electro-mechanical systems,
hydraulic, and wiring tests under static and real
ight conditions will be performed on the 'Aircra
0' integration simulator.
The manufacturer has refined programme
management to enhance decision-making and
improve transparency as manufacturing and assembly
begin. e move is seen as enabling Airbus and its
suppliers to work more closely as the A350 moves
out of the design phase, permitting faster decisions
on engineering, manufacturing, and procurement
e virtual-to-real transition contributed to the
A350 entry-into-ser vice being postponed from mid-
2013 to an unspeci ed date later in the year. Airbus
has established a supplier-development process in its
procurement department and reportedly has created
a "head of A350 operation" position to manage
those programme elements not being out-sourced.
e function is to ensure parts and assemblies come
together in nal assembly punctually at the right cost
and with the intended quality.
Related to the revised in-ser vice target date is a
decision to begin nal assembly of the rst A350
(MSN001) at the end of 2011, rather than in mid-
year as previously planned -- a move intended to
ensure the new aircra does not su er any A380-
Initially, the programme schedule had included
bu ers that enabled Airbus to say, almost a year ago,
that deliveries would remain unchanged even though
the A350-900 schedule had slipped by three months.
e machining of certain parts -- and, by extension,
the beginning of nal assembly -- was delayed a er
some detail design work had required more time to
be devoted to validation of the nite element model.
Metal cutting began 12 months ago, with
machining of the horizontal cruciform that had
been scheduled for November 2009, and which
held up centre wingbox assembly. A cautious Airbus
had wanted to assign su cient time to understand
the implications of working with CFRP, particularly
in airframe sizing , electric structural network, and
damage tolerance and the wing-root joint.
At the beginning of this year, German supplier
Premium Aerotec began machining of the first
A350 aluminium-floor beam using high-speed
tools introduced for the purpose. e company has
invested in other equipment for the production and
processing of the A350's CFRP fuselage shells.
This followed the airframe manufacturer's
initiation of CFRP barrel manufacture in Spain
in late 2010. is tapering, 18 -long rear-fuselage
section is distinct from other A350 body sections
in being produced using a carbon bre-placement
process rather than being constructed with long,
CFRP skin panels.
Also about three months ago, Airbus subsidiary
and partner Aerolia began production of CFRP
fuselage and shell panels for the A350 nose section
at a new composite-materials unit in France. e site
comprises ve manufacturing areas: a 'clean' room
for composite lay-up, an autoclave, panel trimming
facility, and ultrasonic non-destructive testing
section. ree paint booths feed panels to assembly
lines, where robot stations attach clips and frames.
In late 2010, manufacture was under way on the
centre wing box, upper and lower wing covers, and a
landing-gear test facility had been opened.
Airbus claims that its "extended enterprise" approach
to project partnerships enabled "key" suppliers
to be committed to the A350 up to a year earlier
than on previous programmes, with larger work
packages having been contracted from fewer rst-
"The implementation of common processes,
methods, and tools -- including a single, integrated
three-dimensional digital mock-up and a uni ed
planning 'tool' -- are resulting in more- e cient
information-sharing ," the company says.
In February, Magellan Aerospace added a ten-
year, US$20 million agreement to provide A350
crown ttings to an existing contract for centre wing
box and pylon secondary-structure work. e new
business covers machining, treatment, and delivery of
800 ship-sets of machined aluminium-lithium detail
components, starting in April.
Involvement in the A350 has stimulated some
suppliers and partners to invest in manufacturing
capacity. For example, a er acquiring Airbus's former
UK aerostructures business at Filton and following its
selection to make A350 rear spars, GKN Aerospace
has committed almost US$200 million to developing
a "centre of excellence" (see box).
In attempts to ease Chinese market access, the
manufacturer has placed 5 percent of its A350
airframe work in China. Airbus China president
Laurence Barron points out that government and
airline o cials have been following the country's
2011-2015 ve-year plan, the period during which
initial Chinese A350 deliveries fall -- making orders
The manufacturer has gathered almost 600 orders
to date from 36 customers around the world.
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