Airbus is making great strides on its A350 XWB catalogue, known as the Aircraft Description Document (ADD), with most suppliers now well into the process of helping the airframer define what makes sense for the cabin. See the latest top story on the Flightglobal IFEC channel as well as the graphic above (you'll notice that Airbus is using about 40% fewer suppliers for the A350 but that the work packages are substantially larger).
At the very core of Airbus' approach is the A350 'enabling platform' - the standard structures/systems infrastructure forming the backbone of the aircraft that supports the wide range of enabling modules and options available from the ADD.
Learning from the A380 and long-range aircraft experiences, Airbus' cabin architects developed the enabling platform concept - which is protected in a 3D digital mock-up - to provide airlines with "more flexibility, more possibilities to reconfigure and adapt to different market needs", while enabling for Airbus the ramp-up and pre-development of all possible configurations, says head of A350 XWB product offering Alexander Herkner. "This will help both the customer and Airbus to realize the necessary customization but make it industrially feasible."
Essentially, the enabling platform "is all about bringing flexibility without touching the aircraft primary structures or secondary structure", he says. And it means that, if later you want to reconfigure, "you have the space to go there".
But what's an enabling platform without enabling modules? Airbus' modular approach to supplier furnished galleys and lavatories is pre-fab-ulous. Check out what C&D Zodiac is doing for the lavs. (This certifiable "laviator" - a person who takes photos inside aircraft lavs - is particularly jazzed about the pics, but stay tuned to this space for more on the A350 catalogue.)