Honeywell wins first contract to supply systems for Airbus A350 XWB

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Honeywell has won the first contract to supply systems for the Airbus A350 XWB. The US company will provide the auxiliary power unit (APU) and air management system, which is expects to generate $16 billion in revenues over the life of the programme.

Honeywell had previously been selected to supply the APU for the original A350 design, but the air management system is a new win. The "perimeter" of the work packages has also extended, says Greg Albert, Airbus segment vice-president.

In addition to the 1,700shp HGT1700 APU, Honeywell will supply the installation kit including inlet and exhaust ducts and the starter/generator with its power electronics, he says. The air management package will include bleed air, environmental control, cabin pressure control and supplemental cooling systems.

"With the A350 we are initiating a different type of relationship [with suppliers}, says Tom Williams, Airbus executive vice-president programmes and procurement. "We attribute larger, complete work packages to a smaller number of major suppliers who are now becoming real system integrators."

This should allow suppliers to define more efficient systems, he says. They will be responsible for research and development, production and integration, and delivery of systems that are "fully checked and tested to maturity" to the Airbus assembly line.

Previous generation APUs use separate DC starter motors and AC generators, Albert says, but on the A350 a combined starter/generator is part of the APU system. "That allows us a lot more control of starting the APU, which is good for long-term life."

The HGT1700 is a development of Honeywell’s 331 family of APUs, with 10% greater power density than the previous generation. "We are refining technologies proven of previous aircraft," he says, because "early maturity in the APU and air management system is key".

Integrated testing of the APU and air management system will begin towards the end of 2008, with hardware to be delivered to Airbus for rig testing by late 2010/early 2011.

Honeywell is also hoping to win contracts to supply avionics for the A350, Albert says, and is among companies working with Airbus on a "plateau phase" to define cost and programme details. "Heavy activity will continue through the rest of this year," he says.