Airbus has started production in Germany of its
Boeing's 787 Dreamliner - the
The first German component will also be one for the
record books for its size. Measuring almost 32 metres by 6 metres,
the upper wing shell is the largest integrated component ever to
be built by Airbus from weight-saving carbon fibre reinforced
“The A350 XWB sets new benchmarks for the
aviation industry and passengers. Advanced materials make the new
Airbus the most economical and environment-friendly aircraft in
its class. We are also applying these new standards to our
production with facilities and machinery operating to the highest
technology and quality standards. Thanks to this leading-edge
production process, we are able to achieve a very high
efficiency,” said Airbus President and CEO, Tom Enders.
The upper wing shells will
be built using advanced production processes at the 30,000 square
metre production hangars in Stade. For the first time automated
tape-laying technology will be used not only for the carbon fibre
but also for the lightning strike protection and fibreglass
components. The wing shell, measuring 31.6 m by 5.6 m, will then
undergo polymerisation in the autoclave. This high-tech oven is
one of the largest facilities of its kind worldwide and can
accommodate two wing shells simultaneously.
In addition to
laying the wing skin panels, the plant also produces the stringers
(longitudinal stiffeners used in wing panels). In order to produce
these components, Airbus has for the first time, set up a flow line
production system which measures 140 metres in length.
Other innovations include an entirely new quality control system,
which now permits inspection of the external and internal surfaces
of CFRP components of that size simultaneously. The advanced plant
also boasts the use of waterjet technology for edge trimming and a
high-precision automated conveyance system in the production hall
for large components.
In addition to producing the upper
wing shells for the A350 XWB, the Airbus Stade plant builds the
vertical tailplane and, for the first time, CFRP fuselage shells.
Approximately 100 employees will work in A350 XWB production by
the end of 2010. This figure is expected to rise to around 500
when production reaches full capacity.
The Stade plant also has its own dedicated
combined heat and power unit. This unit not only generates
electricity and heat for the hangars: the emissions are used as
inert gas for the autoclave and ensure fire protection. This means
energy exploitation of the power unit is an exceptional 100%.
The A350 XWB is a new family of
widebody airliners (A350-800, A350-900 and A350-1000) for which
Airbus currently has 528 confirmed orders. With an airframe made
of 53% lightweight carbon fibre composites, the aircraft
has enormous fuel-saving potential.
Final assembly of the A350-900
is scheduled to start in 2011, with first delivery currently expected in
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