EADS Military Aircraft's aerostructures facility in Augsburg is investing in its vacuum-assisted process (VAP) for large-panel composite parts as it seeks to take a larger share of Airbus civil production.

EADS Augsburg is the largest external structure supplier to Airbus, producing parts for the entire product range. It is also extensively involved in production for military aircraft such as the Airbus A400M, as well as the Panavia Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon. However, Gerd Berchtold, vice-president for commercial aerostructures at EADS Augsburg, says the plant aims to grow through civil projects to combat the uncertainty created by military spending cycles. The plant has finished its parts production for Tranche 1 Typhoons, for example, and is redeploying workers while it waits for a firm commitment for Tranche 2, he says.

The company is to extend its patented VAP technique, used on the production of panels for the flap tracks of the Airbus A380 and for Eurofighter components, once the process is certificated. Hans-Wolfgang Schr"der, composites production director at the site, says: "We need to be able to build composites cheaply, but we also need to demonstrate reliability."

EADS Augsburg estimates a cost advantage of around 30% with vacuum-produced parts compared with traditional prepreg components. The plant estimates that large composite parts will be around 20% lighter than metal structures.

"In principle all parts we make we intend to make available in VAP composite, if Airbus demands it," says Schröder.



Source: Flight International