Composites centre of excellence expects workshare on new twinjet to approach the 10% it contributes to the A380
With Airbus poised to finalise the workshare allocations for the A350 among its national divisions in March, its Spanish operation says it expects its workshare package to approach the size of its A380 share. This will see it using its carbonfibre expertise in composite structures to produce the twinjet’s new aft fuselage section.
Airbus España, headquartered in Getafe near Madrid, increased its Airbus workshare to 10% on the A380 from the 4.2% it had traditionally held when it operated under the umbrella of the then state-owned CASA. This expansion coincided with the integration of Airbus and the creation of EADS, which took over the non-Airbus elements of the old CASA organisation in 2000.
The Getafe division, which is a centre of excellence for composites within Airbus, was responsible for developing the mainly carbonfibre “section 19/19.1” rear fuselage structure for the A380 – a first in large civil aircraft – and this innovation is central to the weight-saving effort for the A350.
“Our workshare on the A350 will be a little bit less than the 10% we have on the A380, but more than we have on the earlier Airbus models,” says Airbus España general manager Manuel Hita. As well as building the A380’s section 19/19.1, the division produces the horizontal tails for all Airbus aircraft.
When the definition freeze is reached in March, the A350 programme will move into its detailed design phase when the Airbus centres of excellence take on full responsibility for development of major components.
Airbus España developed fibre-placement technology to fabricate the double-curvature skin panels for the A380’s section 19/19.1, and will take the technique one step further on the A350. “We will use fibre-placement to construct the skin in one piece instead of several panels on the A380, which will simplify the design and production method,” says Hita.
Airbus is planning to expand its final assembly facilities in Toulouse to accommodate production of the new aircraft, with a new building to be constructed adjacent to the existing A330/A340 plant.
MAX KINGSLEY-JONES / MADRID
Source: Flight International