The A350 XWB is beginning to take shape as program suppliers are being selected in earnest. Airbus is expecting that 90% of suppliers for the A350 should be locked down before March of 2008.
The last week has brought the program two new, very significant, program suppliers.
The first, a billion dollar contract for the fuel and hydraulic systems, went to Parker Aerospace of Irvine, CA. The contract is notable not only for the systems involved, but the physical location of the company. Airbus has sought to work with dollar-based suppliers since the Euro has gained significant strength over the US Dollar causing significant financial hardship for the European airframer. Moving work outside the Euro-zone gives Airbus the breathing room it has sought over the last few months.
The second massive contract, which is for the flight deck and avionics package, went to Thales (pronounced Tah-les). The contract is valued at a staggering $2.9 billion over the next twenty years. The relaunch of the A350 XWB during the Paris Air Show in 2006 set into motion a complete redesign of the new composite long range twin. Airbus unveiled it's new next generation flight deck which consists of six 16-inch LCD displays and standard Heads Up Displays back in September as part of that redesign.
Image Courtesy Airbus SAS
Airbus has already chosen several major systems suppliers for the XWB including:
Goodrich - Engine Nacelle and Thrust Reverser
Honeywell - Auxiliary Power Unit and Air Management System
Moog - Primary Flight Control Actuation System
Messier-Dowty and Liebherr-Aerospace - Landing Gear
Rockwell Collins - Trimmable Horizontal Stabilizer Actuator
Rolls Royce - Engines
Early indications of the final design have begun to emerge as well, with the definition of the redesigned nosed being released back in September.
Image Courtesy Flight International Magazine
The detailed definition of the aircraft is expected to be frozen later this year. The wings are likely to feature a sweep slightly less than the original concept design of 35 degrees. Another central question to the A350 XWB program is the inclusion of General Electric engines on all variants of the new Airbus. Airbus and GE have been in negotiation about adding a second engine along side the Trent XWB by Rolls Royce. GE is contractually obligated to Boeing not to develop an engine that would compete with its popular GE90 which flies on the 777. With questions popping up about the fuel consumption of the Trent 1000 engines (a close cousin of the Trent XWB) operators are likely pressing Airbus hard for a second choice. In an interview last week, Allan McArtor, Chairman of Airbus North America, said, “We’re disappointed that GE hasn’t joined the program yet.” Adding, “We’re confident that issues are being worked through. It hasn’t happened yet, but we believe it will.”
Read the complete post at http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/flightblogger/2008/01/a350-xwb-taking-shape.html
Tue, Jan 22 2008 5:10 PM
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