My friend who had arranged this visit for me picked me up from my hotel in a car pool vehicle and gave me a quick tour around the facility. There are several good places for photographers and spotters. The rules for photos inside the factory is that "Photografieren ist Verboten" and that is it. Even me with a letter of assignment from my Editor made no impact on the policy. Airbus wants full control on photos and that is understandable. One inconvenience is that you cannot get photos of the old "gate guards" the Hansa Jet, Noratlas Nord etc. because they are inside the facility.
When we got inside the factory we went to the older part of the airfield and one of the administratioin buildings that used to belong to Blohm & Voss who had a manufacturing facility at Finkenwerder.
I Walked the A-320 production line on the floor and looked at each assembly rig then went up 3 storeys where you have a great view of most of the assembly rigs. Was watching a mating of wings to fuselage where they were using laser beams to get it mated very precise.
Photo Credit: Airbus
This assembly line is ramping up to built 40 aircraft a month. Wings from UK, fuselage from France. The assembly line is moving every 2-1/2 day from rig to rig on something called "Easy Movers" which are airbags and when the aircraft leaves the production line at the last station it is moved to other hangars and fitted with cabins, painted and then as a last step engines are mounted. The engines are apparently very pricey and the longer you can wait with installation the longer you can wait paying for them.
Airbus A-320 Fuselage arriving at Finkenverder on one of 5 Belugas. Photo Credit: Airbus
We had lunch in one of the many cafeterias on the site, this one having a A-380 parked right outside the windows, ready for delivery to the customer. What a sight and what a place to have lunch.
We had to go to another security office and after having filled out more forms, I got a badge that would get me in to the A-380 Hangar. A collegeaue of my friend came and walked with us over to the hangar that can accommodate two A-380 where they get fitted with Seats, Lavatories, Galleys and more.
We went through a security entrance and when the door opened I was looking straight at one of the RR Trent 900 engines that powers the A-380. They ranges from 70 to 80.000lbs of thrust. At this stage the aircraft is still on jacks so you have a good chance to look at the Landing gear and the wheel wells, as well as air conditioning packs. Standing under 5oo tons of aircraft touching the tires on the main landing gear is a very humbling feeling.
The A-380 are flown in from France and finished at Finkenwerder. The engines are removed and sent back to Toulouse for the next green aircraft flight and new engines are installed on the aircraft. I questioned that policy and the answer was that the customer gets an aircraft with brand new engines on it, which they seem to appreciate.
Green A-380 geting ready for engine mount.
The A380's upper deck extends along the entire length of the fuselage, with a width equivalent to a wide-body aircraft. This allows for an A380-800's cabin with 478 square metres (5,145.1 sq ft) of floor space
Both upper and lower cabins are very big when they are without seats and it is very interesting to see what hides behind the walls of the aircraft.
A one day visit to a large facility like Finkenverder is not enough to see all the phases and when I go back next year I will have two days in order to explore it better.
4 A-380 waiting for test flights and customer acceptance of aircraft.
Thu, Apr 26 2012 9:57 AM
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