11 October 2012

When the A350 XWB is in service, who will be in charge of structural repairs of critical composite parts?

At the MRO Europe conference held this week the Maintenance providers have requested a change in the relationship with Airbus in regard to composite repairs. Concern exists about Airbus wanting to dominate the aftermarket, and many people expressed the need for balance between Airbus, MRO providers and airlines.

Global percentage of impacts by zones on the aircraft (example on A320)
There is a mix of know how and business.

Airbus wants to concentrate structural repair development for critical composite parts on the A350 XWB to bolted repairs, as it views alternative bonded repairs as "too big a step" on primary load-bearing structures for the time being.

Frédéric Gaible, A350 XWB structures engineer in Airbus customer services engineering and maintenance division, says there will be "limited scope" for bonded repairs on the largely composite twinjet, because the development of bonded repairs for critical parts in the outer fuselage and wing area, where in-service damage is likely to occur, would be "too big a step", he says.
In the A350 XWB the 52% of the material is composite.
Airbus views itself as the main source for structural repair development on its aircraft, as the know-how of the new carbon fiber material -M21E developped jointly with Hexcel- is in house.
But MRO companies are calling for greater sharing of technical data to be able to develop their own repairs. While repairs on new-generation aircraft are becoming more difficult, competition between Airbus and MRO providers will continue. 
Not only Airbus but Boeing too. Arne Lewis, associate technical fellow for Boeing's 787 service engineering division, denies MRO providers are under threat from the OEMs. However, he warns that intellectual property will not be as freely available for new aircraft as on legacy models.
Rear Fuselage MSN001 hand over to FAL. Hamburg 19/Sep/2012
The maintenance of Trent XWB engines is also an open issue; Rolls Royce wants to keep the responsibility and the business of the engine MRO, but some airlines want the same business; Air France has blocked a purchase order of #25 aircraft trying to get an agreement with Airbus and Rolls. In this case, more than the knowledge is the money. 
Based on article "Airbus cautious about bonded structural repairs on A350" published on FlightGlobal

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