Home' Asian Aviation : AAV July August 2011 Contents Manufacturers
While Airbus has given itself additional time to develop subsequent variants, manufacture of the initial A350-900
is underway and the manufacturer has begun testing the new twinjet's systems and structures. Ian Goold reports.
Progress reports on the production
of the first Airbus A350-900 were
overshadowed at June s Paris air show
by the con rmation of a two-year delay
in the A350-800 and -1000 models
scheduled to follow it.
As the European manufacturer prepares to assemble
the rst of its A350 XWB widebody twinjets, it has
admitted the di culties it faces in establishing a
nal-assembly line (FAL) by year s end and ying the
rst machine by late 2012. First delivery of the new
aircra is planned for the end of 2013, a schedule now
acknowledged by Airbus as "challenging".
e next moves in the programme include setting
up so-called "pre-FALs" at the Airbus factories at
Broughton (UK), St Nazaire (France), and Hamburg
(Germany), for the completion of major components
for shipping to the main FAL. e pre-FALs should
begin assembly work on the rst aircra (MSN 001)
before the end of September, ahead of the installation
of systems and equipment, including ducts, electrical
harnesses, pipes, and tubes, from October.
As of June, Airbus s major-component assembly
plans remained geared for the delivery of the rst units
to the FAL by the end of this year. Structural assemblies
handled by the pre-FALs include : the tailplane and
tail n ; the wing ; and fuselage Sections 11/14, 16/19,
Ahead of the Paris show, Airbus said that large parts
of the rst A350 had already been made, and that new
carbon- bre reinforced plastic (CFRP) technolog y
was ready for manufacturing to begin. According to
the company, production of large CFRP components
was underway at all Airbus factories.
"Only [the] very last few open tasks will have to be
completed in the [coming] weeks," Airbus said.
e A350 does not have a carbon- bre composite
fuselage like the Boeing 787, but uses large CFRP skin
panels fastened to a more-conventional metal structure.
Related technical challenges in the programme have
involved the commissioning of very large tooling, the
optimisation of lay-up and curing processes for the
composites materials, as well as the non-destructive
testing of CFRP parts.
In March, programme partners Premium Aerotec
and Spirit AeroSystems completed curing of the
A350 s largest fuselage skin panel at their respective
plants in Nordenham, Germany, and Kinston, North
Carolina . e 93m (1,000 ) item, an element in the
starboard for ward-fuselage at Section 13-14, includes
apertures for the lower-deck cargo door and second
right-hand passenger door.
Such large skin sections were adopted because panel
thickness could be "tailored" locally to accommodate
di erent structural loads, Premium said. Following
ultrasonic inspection, drilling and trimming, the panel
was fastened to other forward-fuselage components.
Spirit AeroSystems manufactures the centre-
fuselage crown, while Premium also makes forward-
crown panels. Production of lower-wing covers and
rear-fuselage barrels is under way at Illescas (Spain),
with upper wing covers manufactured in Stade,
Germany. Centre-wing box and keel beam assemblies
are constructed at Nantes, France.
From the start of the A350 programme, a major
consideration for Airbus has been the need to ensure
early design maturity, which the manufacturer
reported is "developing well" through various major
bench tests. "Large systems integration benches, such
as 'Iron Bird  and 'High Li 0 [are] already in place
18 months before rst ight. Commissioning of other
benches -- 'Landing Gear 0 and 'Cabin 0 -- will follow
this year," Airbus said.
e cabin-systems test platform in Hamburg was
powered up for component veri cation and validation
of components in May. At the same time, Airbus began
to prepare one of its A380 test aircra -- designated
MSN 001 -- for work as a ying test bed for the A350 s
Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine, starting later this year.
e early-maturity programme also includes initial
"virtual" ights, planned to start later in 2011, on the
Toulouse-based 'Iron Bird test rig, which will be used
next year to test electric, hydraulic, and ight-control
systems integration. Under way in Bremen, Germany,
are high-li system tests, using a full-scale, 34m by
7m (111.5 by 23 ) mock-up of the A350-900 ap
assembly, according to Airbus.
In early 2011, Airbus and Chinese partner
Harbin Hafei opened their joint-venture composites
manufacturing centre in Harbin, where A350
rudders and elevators, fuselage fairings and rear-
fuselage maintenance-access doors are manufactured.
Production of the Section 11-12 airframe structure
around the A350 ight deck windscreen has begun at
EADS s aerostructures subsidiary Aerolia in Méaulte,
Other progress includes delivery of Messier-
Dowty-built main and Liebherr Aerospace-made
nose-wheel landing-gear units for installation and
systems-integration testing on the Landing Gear 0 rig
at Filton. Further tests with all three landing-gear units
are planned to begin at the end of this year.
Earlier in 2011, Airbus con rmed its readiness to
consider installing Pratt & Whitney geared turbofans
as an alternative to the Trent XWB.
"If [P&W] wants to propose an engine, we d
certainly look at it. If [Rolls-Royce] wants to give us
reasons to go exclusively with them, we d certainly take
a look at that, too," Airbus said.
Airbus closes in on A350 final assembly
First delivery of the new aircraft is planned for the end of 2013,
a schedule now acknowledged by Airbus as "challenging".
Major components of the first A350-900 will be delivered
to the final assembly line by the end of this year.
AsianAviation | JULY-AUGUST 2011 17
Links Archive AAV June 2011 AAV September 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page