A350 XWB Composites & Metals
(Source: Aerolia; issued July 7, 2010)
MÉAULTE, France --- In both the Design Office and Production, important milestones are being crossed on the A350 XWB Programme, illustrating Aerolia’s Design & Build strategy and its development based on metal and composite technologies.

--The 1st Composite Panel for the A350 XWB

At Méaulte, in the 18,000 m² Composite Unit, currently near completion, the A350XWB nose fuselage sections will be manufactured. During building work, a team of 15 Aerolia engineers, technicians and workers is working at Nantes where, alongside Airbus teams, they have just produced the first all composite panel for the A350XWB.

Presented on 7 July, this composite panel has a thickness varying from 2 to 5 mm, with a surface area of 12 m², fitted with 14 stiffeners.

The successful non-destructive ultrasonic tests bear witness to the quality of this panel, validating the manufacturing processes to be implemented by Aerolia in the new Composites Unit in Méaulte for an investment of € 160 Millions.

-- The 1st cockpit window frame

At Méaulte, the 1st A350XWB window frame was presented to our Airbus Customer on 7 July. A key part of aviation cockpits, the window frames are integrally machined to provide this exposed section of the aircraft with the required stiffness.

Three 5-axis machines controlled by CATIA, produce these frames automatically in compliance with quality and weight requirements. Machined from an aluminium blank weighing 1.5 tonnes, the A350XWB window frame is machined down to 27 kg for a thickness of 22 cm, a length of 1 m 82 and a width of 1 m 36. All the cockpit window frames for all the aircraft of the different Airbus families are produced here at Méaulte.

-- On-time delivery of pipes

On the Aerolia Saint-Nazaire site, the Systems Unit produces all the tubes & pipes for the whole A350XWB fuselage. Within the framework of this contract, won last year in a competition with ten other suppliers, the team has just delivered the first 130 pipes for the test benches of the cooling systems in the cockpit, and forward, centre and aft fuselage sections.

All these pipes were delivered to Airbus Hamburg on schedule and with the required quality. A performance made possible by the integrated technological process implemented between the Design Office and the Saint-Nazaire industrial site, both Aerolia.

This industrial milestone will be followed by the manufacture and delivery to our Airbus Customer of hydraulic pipes for the Iron Bird (aircraft 0) between the end of October 2010 and the beginning of February 2011.

--The 1st aeronautical aluminium-lithium panel: a “step ahead”

At Saint- Nazaire, the first A350XWB panel has been stretch formed. This panel is the 1st aluminium-lithium panel to be used on a commercial aircraft. It will be assembled on the fatigue test specimen of the future Airbus product.

This step was accompanied, at the end of June, by the production of the 1st aircraft lower sill, a part of the nose fuselage and the Section 11 upper shell, giving a preview of this work-package, which has the particularity of associating composite and metallic technologies, depending on the location of the panels.

Finally, the entry into service of the F5X Large mechanical machining unit will contribute to the production of panels for the A350XWB as well as for the A380. Starting production in September 2010, the FX5-Large will increase the machining capacity of the Aerolia Panel Line by 20% and will produce very large size 3D panels, up to 10.5m long, 3.3m wide and with a camber of 1.2m, associating technological performance and precision in an environmentally-friendly process.

To date, more than 5200 “greener” panels machined on the F5X are already installed on Airbus A320 and A330-340 aircraft.

--The Design Office - the best in composite and metallic technologies

At Toulouse, within the Aerolia Design Office, during the first half-year the 100 engineers and collaborators working on the A350XWB Programme have defined the long-cycle parts such as these panels and window frames, presented to our Airbus Customer on 7 July.

During the second half of the year, they will finalise the detailed dimensioning of the aircraft in order to start production of all the drawings.

Milestone after milestone the Aerolia Design Office is concretising the Design & Build strategy of the world No. 2 in nose and forward fuselages, using the best of its skills in composite and metal technologies.

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