Airbus is planning a £570 million ($760 million) investment to upgrade composite capability at its Broughton site in the UK, in preparation for its role as final assembly location for the A350XWB wing.
The company will start the two- to three-year investment plan next year as part of its overall Power8 restructuring plan, says senior vice-president and wing centre of excellence head Brian Fleet.
It plans to “retrain and redeploy staff, using the growth of its programmes to do so”, he adds. Fleet expects workers to learn composite techniques through stints at other Airbus composite centres of excellence, as is the case with the military A400M programme.
Plans to involve a partner at Airbus' 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.”
The company is in talks with potential partners who could take over the site and Fleet says it hopes to conclude an agreement this year.
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.”