Thales Aerospace is at Farnborough showcasing the transition of the company's innovative TopDeck avionics suite for the Airbus A350 XWB from concept to reality as hardware deliveries begin to ramp up.

The success of the development effort to date endorses a decision by Airbus to change the way in which it does business with key suppliers, says the French conglomerate.

"The new supplier policy is really a change of mindset for Airbus and its suppliers," says Sebastien Perrignon, Thales Aerospace A350 XWB deputy programme manager.

"Airbus has defined what they call the 'new system policy', which governs the rules between Airbus and its suppliers. This new policy is based on three main pillars: earlier, closer and wider."

In practice this means that key suppliers are brought in earlier in the development process, take on bigger and more comprehensive integrated work packages and work with Airbus in a more collaborative way using common software tools.

Thales was awarded the "global work package" for the A350's cockpit displays, and "pre-integration packages" for the air data and inertial reference units (incorporating Goodrich probes and Rockwell Collins multi-mode receivers interfacing with GPS).

The company is also supplying cabin and electrical systems for the A350.

"This is not just words, it's reality," says Gil Michielin, Thales Aerospace vice-president and general manager for commercial aircraft solutions.

"The extended enterprise is a reality. We have done the pre-integration packages. The way to manage the uncertainty at the early stages of definition of the avionics and to share that uncertainty with the supply chain in a structured way, is applied today. Our feedback is pretty positive - we have made a significant step in terms of de-risking," he says.

Thales provides 50 hardware boxes per aircraft for the A350's integrated modular avionics, and it has begun deliveries to software suppliers to enable them to validate their applications.

"We have just passed the critical design review, allowing us to manufacture the first boxes," says Perrignon. "We have delivered more than 240, and we have also delivered the first two shipsets of displays."

Source: Flight Daily News