LONG BEACH -- With a 14ft long composite panel sewn into the left side of the first prototype A340-300 (F-WWAI), Airbus is evaluating the acoustic performance of the carbon fiber selected for the A350 fuselage. The aircraft has been flying our of the company's Toulouse base since early last week and is undergoing three weeks of flight testing, says Airbus.
The purpose of the flight tests is to determine the ideal material for acoustically insulating the A350's cabin. Carbon fiber does not attenuate sound the same way as aluminum and requires a different type of insulation between the fuselage structure and the cabin sidewalls.
Airbus cabin office vice president, Jonathan Norris explains that if the airframer had chosen traditional insulation used in an aluminum fuselage, it would require more to achieve the same level of soundproofing in the cabin of a composite fuselage.
Airbus is evaluating different types of acoustic foam that will line the outermost layer up against the carbon fiber skin of the A350, which will then be layered with traditional acoustic blanket like those found in aluminum aircraft.
Additionally, the photo above gives some sense of the size comparison of the A320, A330, A340 family windows in comparison to those of the A350.
Photos Credit Airbus