Aerolia set to begin A350 nose section production

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Aerolia intends to begin production of the composite fuselage and shell panels for the nose section of the Airbus A350 XWB on 30 November, just a day after the company inaugurates its 18,000m2 (193,750ft2) composite unit in Méaulte, France.

The composite unit at the company's Picardy site is split into to five manufacturing areas including a 5,320m2 clean-room for composite lay-up, where the "prepared skins are placed on the curing mould and the stiffeners are integrated" while simultaneously placing 32 carbon tows in preparation for curing, says EADS.

The second site hosts a 7m by 14m autoclave for curing, while a third with a dual headed trim and drill machine trims the panels. The fourth, for ultrasonic non-destructive testing, is used for quality control of the fuselage and shell panels. The fifth area houses three paint booths feed panels connecting to four assesmbly lines, which are equipped with nine assembly stations and four robot stations that "perform the assembly and riveting of clips and frames on the panels," adds EADS.

The facility, represents a 220 million Euro (US$288 million) investment for the company, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, also the parent company of Airbus.

Aerolia unveiled a 12m2 composite panel on 7 July, used to validate the manufacturing processes of the new unit.

Final assembly of the first A350-900, due for entry into service in 2013 with Qatar Airways, is set to begin in 2011.