DN Staff

September 20, 2010

3 Min Read
Production Begins on Airbus XWB

The AirbusXWB - now under production in Germany - will feature the largest integratedcomponent ever to be built by Airbus from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic(CFRP).

The upperwing shell, which measures 105 ft by almost 20 ft, is being built in Stade,Germany, using advanced composite production processes.

"The A350XWB sets new benchmarks for the aviation industry and passengers," says AirbusCEO Tom Enders. "Advanced materials make the new Airbus the most economical andenvironmentally friendly aircraft in its class."

The newdesign is the Airbus response to the tremendous reception to thecomposite-bodied Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Airbus claims that its version willbe more fuel-efficient and will feature an operating cost that is up to 8percent lower than the Boeing 787.

Production Begins on Airbus XWB

Production Begins on Airbus XWB_A

Automatedtape-laying technology will be used for the first time for the carbon fiber, andfor the lightning strike protection and fiberglass components. The wing shellwill then be polymerized in an autoclave. Airbus says the high-tech oven is oneof the largest facilities of its kind in the world and can accommodate two wingshells simultaneously.

In additionto laying the wing skin panels, the plant will also produce stringers,longitudinal stiffeners used in wing panels. For the first time, Airbus has setup a flow-line production system with an automated conveyor system thatmeasures one-and-a-half football fields in length to produce these components.

Otherproduction innovations at the Stade hanger include a new quality control systemthat permits inspection of the external and internal surfaces of CFRPcomponents of that size simultaneously. Waterjet technology is used for edgetrimming.

The XWB is also the first Airbus plane touse CFRP fuselage shells, which will also be built in the Stade facility.Slightly more than half (53 percent) of the airframe will be made of carbonfiber composites

About 100employees will work in A350 XWB production by the end this year. Another 400will be added when production reaches full capacity. Final assembly of theA350-900 is scheduled to start in 2011, with first delivery scheduled for 2013.

The Stadeplant has a dedicated combined heat and power unit that generates electricityand heat for the hangars. Emissions are used as inert gas for the autoclave.

The A350 XWBis a new family of widebody airliners (A350-800, A350-900 and A350-1000) forwhich Airbus says it has 528 confirmed orders.

Production Begins on Airbus XWB

Production Begins on Airbus XWB_B

Thematerials' breakdown in the A350 XWB is 53 percent composites, 19 percent Al/Al-Li, 14 percent titanium, 6percent steel and 8 percent other materials. In comparison, the Dreamlinerconsists of 50 percent composites, 20 percent aluminum, 15 percent titanium, 10percent steel and 5 percent other materials.

Oneimportant difference is that the Dreamliner is being built by a global supplychain, while critical CFRP components of the A350 XWB are built primarily inGermany and the UK. The extended supply chain for the 787 is being blamed forsome of its extensive delays. In a nod to the tremendous potential of theChinese market, Airbus announced that two Chinese manufacturers will supply 5percent of the parts the A350 aircraft,

Airbus has contractedwith BMW to develop an interior concept for the A350.

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