The first wing set for the Airbus Military A400M transport aircraft was removed from its jig in Airbus Filton, near Bristol yesterday, making it the largest wing ever to have been constructed from composite materials (see pictures below).
The completion of the wing set is the first stage of the eventual equipping phase for the wing, which will later be mated onto the first model of the A400M, manufacturer's serial number 001. The carbon fibre reinforced plastic wing is the first for an Airbus-built aircraft and is believed to be the largest composite wing ever made.
Charles Paterson, head of A400M wing for Airbus says: "Seeing the whole wing come together so quickly and efficiently is a tribute to the whole team. We still have some intensive work ahead of us to ensure we continue to remain on schedule, but today is one of intense pride and celebration as the aircraft takes shape".
The 23m x 4m (75ft 11in x 13ft 2in) left wingbox, weighs around 3t was removed from its assembly jig by overhead crane.
Final assembly of the first wing components began just four months ago, on 20 July. The next step is to carry out comprehensive measurements of the wing before the fitting of hydraulic, pneumatic, fuel and electrical systems. The first five wing sets will also be fitted with test sensors for the ground and flight test phase.
After equipping and full testing, the wings will be delivered from Filton to the A400M aircraft final assembly line in Seville, Spain on the A300-600ST Beluga oversize transport aircraft.
© Martin Chainey / Airbus Military