Airbus is planning a €570 million ($760 million) investment to upgrade composite capability at its UK Broughton site, in preparation for its role as final assembly location for the A350 XWB wing, writes Helen Massy-Beresford.

The company will start the two- to three-year investment plan next year, senior vice-president and wing centre of excellence head Brian Fleet told the Society of British Aerospace Companies conference in Manchester.

Airbus plans to "retrain and redeploy staff, using the growth of its programmes to do so", he adds. Workers will learn composite techniques through stints at other Airbus composite centres of excellence, as with the military A400M programme.

Plans to involve a partner at Airbus's UK site at Filton should not impede this, he says: "The vast majority of Filton will remain under Airbus - we have 1,800 design engineers at Filton."

Airbus UK vice-president of procurement Dave Micklewright adds that the airframer has appointed Deloitte "to help with progress" at Filton as it pursues its plan to outsource risk to the supply chain. "It is not exactly Boeing, but it is radically different," he says. "It's about halfway to Boeing and that is pretty radical for Airbus."

Source: Flight International