31 December 2012

Happy New Year 2013

♥ Happy New Year ♥ Feliz Año Nuevo ♥ Ein gutes Neues Jahr ♥ Bonne Année ♥ Felice Anno Nuovo ♥ Feliz Ano Novo ♥ Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku ♥ Urte Berri On♥  あけましておめでとう Счастливого Нового Года ♥ 新年快 Bon Any Nou ♥Kung hé fat tsoi ♥Godt nytt år! ♥An nou fericit! ♥Sretna nova godina ♥Godt nytår ♥Štastný Nový rok ♥Gelukkige nuwejaar ♥ Xin nian kuai le  ♥ Kali xronia ♥ Akemashite omedetô ♥ Ath bhliain faoi mhaise ♥ Yeni yiliniz kutlu olsun

30 December 2012

ASCO Industries from Belgium Belairbus consortium designs and builds slat support mechanisms and other Titanium Parts of the Main Landing Gear Attachment

ASCO is known in the aerospace industry because of its background and capabilities in research, design and manufacturing of high lift mechanism devices & complex precision mechanical subassemblies.

Asco has 2 different work packages in the A350 XWB program:

-the first one includes 44 subassemblies of slat support mechanisms, from which 26 slat tracks, 10 hinge arms, 4 drive lever assemblies, and 4 strut assemblies. Asco has applied one of its patents to design the slat support mechanisms, taking into account that the leading edge high lift mechanisms design is a critical key for the performance of the aircraft on take-off and landing.

-the second one includes eight machined parts –made from titanium- for the main landing gear attachment; 2 cantilever fittings, 2 pintle fitting outboards, 2 pintle fitting inboard and 2 side stay fitting. After production, parts are sent to Premium AEROTEC in Augsburg for assembly of the main landing gear attachment, which is finally delivered to Airbus UK.

Asco, which employs 1,300 people, is a proven technology specialist and supply chain integrator in design, development, precision machining, processing, and certified assembly of complex high strength metallic aircraft components (high-lift devices, landing gear components, and engine attachments).
Headquartered in Zaventem Belgium, Asco has 3 manufacturing plants in Belgium, Canada and Germany, an engineering office in the United States, a procurement office in Brazil and a commercial office in France. Asco has recently acquired a manufacturing plant in Oklahoma, which will be developed over the next years.

29 December 2012

If American Airlines and US Airways merge go ahead, no cancellation of A350´s are expected

American Airlines and US Airways are moving closer to a merger, and a decision could come early next month, people familiar with the matter said. The push follows American’s efforts to reorganize in bankruptcy court before a merger and US Airways’ quest to lead a takeover creating the world’s largest airline.
Analysts says there is not foreseen US Airways canceling its A350 orders in favor of American Airlines’ outstanding 777 order.
US Airways is one of the remaining A350-800 customers and this might be upgraded to the A350-900, allowing the airline 60 seats more per aircraft in economy class (from 36 Envoy Class / 234 Economy Class in A350-800, to 36 Envoy Class / 294 Economy Class in A350-900)
The airline has 18 A350-800 aircraft and 4 A350-900 aircraft on order for delivery from 2017 onwards and the upgrading of 18 A350-800 to bigger A350-900 will not be a surprise.
A combination of American, the 3rd biggest U.S. carrier, and No. 5 US Airways would surpass United Continental as the world’s largest airline, based on passenger traffic.
Based on the article “AMR Said to Take Steps Nearing Merger With US Airways” published in Bloomberg

28 December 2012

A350 XWB one step further in the EFB (Electronic Flight Bag). Flexibility + Integration = class 2-plus. And available in the iPad

Airbus aims to revolutionize electronic flight bag philosophy with the A350 XWB. It will offer a system that combines integrated hardware with the ability to dock a laptop computer or an iPad, which is operated using the aircraft's on-board controls. The EFB will offer typical applications like E-documentation - for example flightcrew operating manual or minimum equipment list -, as well as performance programs and mission management support.

Dubbed a "class 2-plus" EFB, the system has been evolved from the A380's on-board information system (OIS), which is a fully integrated class 3 EFB, says senior Airbus test pilot Jean-Michel Roy. "What we wanted to do is to combine the benefits of a class 2 EFB and a class 3 EFB, by having a fixed integrated keyboard and screen, but with an easily removable central processing unit and memory," Roy says.

Click the image to watch Mr. Roy explaining the AFB class 2-plus; "The benefit of having fixed and removable parts is that it is open and flexible," he said.
"Unlike the A380's class 3 solution, where computers that are part of the aircraft are connected to flightdeck screens, the A350's class 2-plus EFB enables a pilot to connect his laptop or iPad into the docking station and control it using the KCCU [keyboard cursor control unit] on the pedestal or the keyboard and touch panel integrated into the table, and it will be displayed on the lateral outer screen."


"If an airline - for example Lufthansa - likes to give a laptop to each of its pilots, he can plug it into the aircraft's docking station, it will be displayed on the flightdeck screens, and can be removed at the end of the flight," he says. "Another configuration could be an airline that keeps it on board and removes it just for updates."

Airbus’ EFB content available in the iPad.

Airbus has become the first aircraft manufacturer to provide its Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) performance-calculating applications for Pilots on iPad. Airlines will soon be able to download the first apps as part of its “FlySmart with Airbus” EFB portfolio from the App Store. Pilots will be able to compute performance calculations and also consult Airbus’ Flight Operations Manuals from a light hand-held device.

Didier Lux, EVP of Airbus Customer Services says: “15 years ago Airbus was the pioneer in providing the first EFB applications with the goal of creating the ‘paperless’ cockpit. Today we go a step further: By combining our EFB content with the world’s most versatile mobile digital device, the iPad, airline pilots will be able to optimize aircraft performance in the palm of their hand, while obtaining savings in cost, weight and time.”


Airbus’ new iPad solution has been tested by Airbus pilots in order to ensure its compliance with Airbus EFB standards. Moreover, Airbus has already ordered iPads for its Flight Test and Training Department who will use of FlySmart with Airbus on iPad as standard practice from now on. Licenses for the EFB apps are available exclusively to Airbus customers.

27 December 2012

Spirit AeroSystems’ Kinston plant approved a 12-year labor agreement.

Production and maintenance workers at Spirit AeroSystems’ Kinston plant approved their first contract last week. But this but this would not be a remarkable story if it wasn't for the agreement signed is for 12 years.
The 500,000-square-foot plant, which opened in 2010, builds fuselage and wing components for the Airbus A350 XWB.
In April, production and maintenance workers voted in for representation by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The union represents 150 of the plant’s 375 employees (40%). And in December, 85% of those voting approved a 12-year labor agreement with Spirit.

“We are very pleased with this ratification vote of what is a highly innovative agreement,” Spirit AeroSystems spokesman Ken Evans said in a statement. “Rather than legislate, the agreement provides a simple framework for problem-solving among the partners.” It’s a living agreement to keep the facility productive and efficient, Evans said. It allows the two to work out any needed changes together. “We believe this agreement is historic in nature, setting a new bar for company/union partnerships,” Evans said.
Organizing the Spirit plant was an important win for the Machinists, Ron Eldridge, the union’s aerospace coordinator, said in a statement at the time. “It allows us to build on the partnership with Spirit that the IAM has in the Wichita, Kan., facility. We can show other aerospace workers in the South how beneficial an IAM contract is for working families.” Eldridge said it was important that workers get thorough, professional training when a new plant opens and workers are hired.
Based on article “Spirit workers in North Carolina approve first contract” published in The Wichita Eagle

26 December 2012

A350 XWB; the first curved windows Airbus is using in a cockpit design.

There are different requirements directly conflicting when windows configuration is defined.

Fuel efficiency is drive on the A350 XWB design, so aerodynamics and weight requirements are the first in the list.

Aerodynamics departments don't like flat surfaces in general. But there is also another key factor; visibility for pilots; they hate not being able to see.

Airbus made in 2008 a revision -that re-named the aircraft as XWB Xtra Wide Body- and the nose fuselage, that was similar to the A380, changed the shape of the upper radius and upper shell of the fuselage for aerodynamic reasons. Airbus refined the six-windscreen layout and worked to minimize the centre post to improve the pilots' visibility.

Glass makers –in this case Saint.Gobain- hate not-flat surfaces and the cost is higher because of complexity of the manufacturing process for a transparent laminate with rounded corners to prevent/mitgate against stress points in the cutout.

Structural engineers include an important and challenging requirement: to resist a birdstrike. The nose fuselage is one of the critical areas in the aircraft that must be certified against a bird impact test.

Manufacturability and birdstrike requirements defined the dimensions of the windows; smaller than a typical commercial jet and significantly smaller than windows on the 787, making them easier to certify for birdstrike and easier to manufacture as well.

In 2008 was also decided to remove the opening direct vision cockpit windows for flightcrew emergency evacuation and was included an escape hatch in the flightdeck roof instead; weight reduction and structural requirements optimization with low risk as it was the result of a trade off after benchmarking the configuration Boeing was using in the 787.

A big challenge in the 787 and A350 XWB going to curved windows is that curved windows are much harder than flat windows to optically match to the HUD (Head Up Display), which both these aircraft offer. The optical quality controls on the curved glass are extraordinarily tight, to be able to certify the HUD for takeoff and landing.

Finally, other tests like UV radiation, cold & hot temperature tests and ice balls firing tests are performed in the manufacturer facilities located at Sully sur Loire (France)

25 December 2012

USA350. Without American partners and suppliers participation, the A350 XWB would not be possible

Spirit AeroSystems, Goodrich and Parker Aerospace are only 3 members of the A350 XWB industrial team, and the example of  the growing contribution that Airbus is making to the US aerospace industry, with an increased spending nationwide that has doubled in the last 5 years and reached an investment of around 10 billion dollars last year alone.

 Airbus is the biggest export customer for American aerospace, creating high-value jobs across the country. U.S. workers in 40 states help build Airbus aircraft – supplying parts, components, tooling, material and services from more than 400 companies. As a result, Airbus supports over 180,000 jobs in the United States.
The USA350 advertising campaign highlights Airbus’ important contribution to the U.S. economy.
“Airbus is increasingly working with US-based high-tech companies” said Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor. “Today hundreds of American companies in over 40 states and over 180,000 jobs are supported through Airbus’ partnership with the US. Airbus is extremely thankful for the steadfast leadership of American leaders and Mayors for his long-term vision and his continuous support to the aviation industry" McArtor added.

Since 1990, Airbus has spent $127 billion in the U.S. with hundreds of American suppliers. This supplier network involves some of the most respected names in American aerospace, including Alcoa, Eaton, GE, Goodrich, Hamilton Sundstrand, Honeywell, Northrop Grumman, PPG, Pratt & Whitney, Rockwell Collins and Spirit Aerosystems.

Just one example of how Airbus works helps to grow American companies is in Kinston, North Carolina. In 2010, Spirit AeroSystems opened at 500,000-square-foot plant there to manufacture the A350 XWB’s composite center fuselage frame. This major work package for Airbus’ newest aircraft underscores the company's commitment to growing its development and manufacturing activities in the United States and around the world.

“Partnering with Airbus on the A350 XWB is a significant step in our company’s history. Our new plant in North Carolina will employ as many as 1,000 people.” Jeff Turner President and CEO Spirit AeroSystems

"Parker’s partnership with Airbus to help build the A350 XWB is providing work for our employees here in Kalamazoo and at seven other plants in seven states.” Greg Bierlein Vice President and General Manager Parker, Kalamazoo, MI

"The A350 XWB is an important program for Goodrich. Our work will be done at facilities in seven states." Marshall Larsen Chairman, President and CEO Goodrich Corporation

24 December 2012

Santa Claus is coming to town with a paper aircraft... Merry Christmas

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas and simply "Santa" is coming to town and has brought a "paper aircraft" for you.

The model of the paper aircraft is, of course, the A350-800.
Merry Christmas!

23 December 2012

One year ago, the first forward fuselage arrived at the FAL-Toulouse. The 3rd is expected in few days

Airbus received the first forward fuselage from the Saint-Nazaire facility at the FAL in Toulouse on 23/Dec/2011, exactly one year ago.

It was installed in the MSN5000 static test specimen. Since then, another forward fuselage was received and joint in the MSN001.

And in few days (or weeks), the 3rd forward fuselage will arrive at the FAL to start the final assembly of the MSN003, second flyable aircraft.

The 21m cockpit and forward cabin will be transported to Toulouse by Airbus A300-600ST freighter Beluga.


22 December 2012

Swiss needs more-fuel-efficient aircraft than A340 to operate the Zurich-Singapore daily service. And the best candidate is the A350-1000.

Swiss International Airlines plans to go head-to-head with its Star Alliance partner Singapore Airlines on the Singapore-Zurich route to take advantage of burgeoning business traffic between the two cities.

The airline is returning to Singapore on May 2013 with a daily nonstop service from Zurich, says Arved von zur Muhlen, head of sales and marketing international. The carrier will operate an Airbus A340-300, but needs a more fuel-efficient aircraft longer-term, he adds. SIA operates a daily Airbus A380 service.

"The A340 is not the most fuel-efficient, but it's great for passengers. In future we will look at replacing the A340. Only two aircraft spring to mind-the Airbus A350-1000 and the Boeing 777-300ER," Muhlen says. "We expect in the course of next year, there will be a decision. It's a Swiss and Lufthansa board decision and it [the proposal] is laying on the table." Swiss is part of the Lufthansa group.

The Airbus A350-1000 would be appealing, Muhlen says, because Swiss believes it could fill a larger widebody on some of its routes, such as its flights to New York and Bangkok. He concedes, however, that the -1000 is still in development and that Swiss may be unwilling to wait. But he adds, "My personal opinion is that Swiss could get [second-hand] A340-600s as an interim solution," while the carrier waits for the A350-1000.


Based on article “Swiss Returns to Singapore Lured by Growing Business Travel” published in Aviation Daily

21 December 2012

Key objective for 2013

Achieving first test flights by mid 2013 for the A350 XWB is the “key objective” for 2013, and Bregier called results from engine tests “promising.” The first A350 after construction is on track for ground testing of mechanical, electrical and avionics systems, he said.

Based on article "Airbus Set to Beat Targets as CEO Cautions on Challenges Ahead" published in Bloomberg

20 December 2012

Airbus CEO identifies 2 “risky” partners in the A350 XWB. Financial issues in the second one. (2)

Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President & CEO said last week in a meeting with media. "We are satisfied with the past stages but there is more risk of delay than to be in advance”. In that meeting, Brégier talked about three risk sharing partners; the first one, British Rolls Royce, in charge of the engine that is arriving the FAL in few weeks.

The goal is certification by the European aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and risk mitigation.

Airbus has identified another two suppliers (called RSP-risk sharing partners) that gives small signs of concerns.

Alestis Aerospace. Financial issues.

The case of Spanish Alestis Aerospace, which was placed under court administration in May/2012, is different. As same as what it did with the German supplier PFW -which produces precision aviation tubes-, Airbus is trying to enter the capital of Alestis. In principle, this operation will be temporary.

Alestis Aerospace is facing a cash crunch and from May this year it is operating from one bill to the next. Airbus has taken the control of the group as new CEO was former managing director of Airbus Military facility of Tablada (Sevilla). This is a more severe intervention called “transformation project” where “deeper levels of operational support are provided”, with financial support, if approved before Christmas.

Alestis is in charge of the belly fairing and the section 19.1 of the rear fuselage.

Alestis, as Spirit, has a workpackage in 787-9 and has delivered the HTP-Tips (a subassembly of metallic and composite parts) and strakelets (2 fairing in the HTP) to Boeing some weeks ago.


Based on the article “L'Airbus A350 proche de son envol“ published in La Tribune

19 December 2012

Airbus CEO identifies 2 “risky” partners in the A350 XWB. Technical issues in the first one. (1)

Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President & CEO said last week in a meeting with media. "We are satisfied with the past stages but there is more risk of delay than to be in advance”. In that meeting, Brégier talked about three risk sharing partners; the first one, British Rolls Royce, in charge of the engine that is arriving the FAL in few weeks.

The goal is certification by the European aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and risk mitigation.

Airbus has identified another two suppliers (called RSP-risk sharing partners) that gives small signs of concerns.

Spirit Aerosystems. Technical issues.

The complex section 15 centre fuselage, produced by Spirit AeroSystems, is a critical component. Didier Evrard said some months ago "I can't say everything is fully bridged" regarding the production process.

Spirit AeroSystems Inc., the largest U.S. supplier for the A350 structure, is still working to produce parts more efficiently. CEO Jeff Turner said in a recent interview. “It’s not going as well as I’d like”. And last month, during the presentation of the Third Quarter 2012 Financial Results, he clearly stated: “While new airplane programs are always challenging, I am extremely disappointed in our management of the complexity on these programs”.

Spirit and Airbus had said they are cooperating to meet ambitious production targets for the aircraft and Airbus has sent its own teams to help Spirit in difficulty, after introducing a joint improvement program to seek “sustainable improved delivery performance”.

Meanwhile, Spirit AeroSystems is celebrating the completion of the 100th composite forward fuselage section for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Based on the article “L'Airbus A350 proche de son envol “ published in La Tribune


18 December 2012

A350 XWB will have as standard the runway overrun protection system (ROPS) to avoid the most common type of airline accident.

ROPS represents a major contribution to increased safety, and will be fitted as standard to the A350 XWB. It will be also available as a retrofit to all Airbus aircraft.

This system will warn the pilots, during approach, of the risk of runway overrun. This is the most common type of airline accident, occasionally fatal but almost always damaging to the aircraft.

ROPS is an avionics solution that compares aircraft energy state and landing performance against the runway end throughout the short final approach to the aircraft’s eventual stop. It issues warnings to pilots on final approach, if the runway length from the projected touchdown spot is too short, aiding them in making the decision to go around. Once the aircraft has touched down, ROPS warns if heavier braking and reverse thrust are required to stop the aircraft within the confines of the runway.

ROPS provides the pilots, during approach, with a visual display of where the aircraft will stop on the selected runway in both dry and wet conditions if the aircraft carries out a standard stabilized approach at the correct speeds. If the runway is too short, the stop lines show beyond the end of the runway, and the pilots receive spoken and visual warnings.

This GPS-linked function is active in real time, so if the pilots approach to fast or too high, or land too far down a runway that originally showed as sufficiently long, the visual information about stopping positions is continually adjusted and warnings are activated if necessary.
click the image to watch a demo-video

The crew can call up an image of the desired runway layout on to the navigation display to designate the runway required (Toulouse Runway 14L, for example). The pilots then designate the runway by using their keyboard cursor control unit to place the magenta chevrons over the threshold of Runway 14L and click. Seconds later, the magenta crossbars across the runway show where the landing roll would come to a full stop if the runway were dry, and the second - further on - if it were wet. If the runway were too short the crossbars would be in the overrun.

When ROPS provides the stopping point designators early in the approach, it assumes you will fly a standard profile at standard reference speeds, crossing the threshold at 50ft (15m) and putting the aircraft down in the touchdown zone. But if the aircraft is high and fast on approach, the ROPS knows, and the stopping point designators move away down the runway.

 click the image to watch a demo-video
 While the safety enhancement aspect of ROPS cannot be overlooked, there is also a cost-saving implication.

The ROPS has been developed from the A380's "brake-to-vacate" (BTV) capability, whereas BTV itself will be optional on the A350 XWB. BTV is a programmable braking control system which, if set before landing, provides automatic braking to slow the aircraft evenly to enable the crew to turn off the runway at a chosen exit, potentially reducing runway occupancy time. BTV would be particularly useful when landing in marginal visibility.


Based on article “Airbus To Offer Runway Protection System for Its Aircraft” published in AINOnline

17 December 2012

Brégier: “We are satisfied with the past stages but there is more risk of delay than to be in advance”

Airbus acknowledges the first flight of the A350 XWB by mid-2013 won’t be easy. Airbus is trying very hard, though: there’s a lot of pressure to have the airplane at the Paris Air Show.

Airbus's CEO Fabrice Brégier said the goal to hold the first flight for the A350 XWB in mid 2013 is "not easy, but reachable". Mr. Brégier said the MSN001 aircraft is on schedule -with engines´ blade off test passed last week- though the calendar is "tight".

"For the program, the important thing is to fly in good conditions. For the A350-team, flying at the Paris Air Show in mid-June is an important goal".

Therefore, Airbus CEO has set internally to its A350-team the goal of the Airshow. "I don't want to make the same roll-out than the Boeing 787", summed up. "It was completely disassemble after that marketing operation". Because the 787 has known many technological and technical difficulties between its roll-out (on 07/08/07) and its first flight 2,5 years later (on 12/15/09).

The roll-out of the A350 XWB is scheduled for May/2013, a month before its first flight.
Brégier “Our concern is not to increase the backlog but the schedule”

Based on article “l'objectif d'un premier vol de l'A350 à la mi-2013 n'est "pas facile" published in Les Echos

16 December 2012

Nose landing gear doors open or closed during taxing?

Airbus has confirmed that the Nose Landing Gear doors on the A350 XWB, as shown in these photos, will be closed on the ground during normal operations. “The forward set of doors only will be open when the gear is being extended or retracted,” Airbus said.

“The reason that they are open in this picture is that the aircraft is not hydraulically active at the point when the picture was snapped and there was no reason to close the doors for the short road trip.”

These NLG doors are manufactured by Corse Composites Aeronautiques as a tier 2 to Aerolia.

15 December 2012

David Cameron visits Broughton facility to demonstrate his support to Airbus, only some weeks after the failed tie-up between EADS and BAE Systems

UK Prime Minister David Cameron visited the Airbus factory in Broughton to welcome the announcement of a deal for 100 new A320´s order that “will protect 1500 UK-based jobs at Airbus and a further 7500 in its wider supply chain”.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This is excellent news and a tremendous boost for the workforce and for UK manufacturing. Today’s announcement demonstrates the strength of the UK aerospace sector and the important role it plays in growing and rebalancing our economy. This Government will continue to back UK aerospace; cutting business taxes, investing in exports and working in partnership with the industry to ensure it is fully equipped to compete and thrive in the global race.”

The Broughton plant in North Wales assembles wings for a range of Airbus models including the A350 XWB.
During a question and answer session with Airbus workers, Mr Cameron was asked about the failed deal between EADS and BAE. The prime minister said that the government was “positively engaged and committed” to Airbus. “We weren’t the ones putting barriers and hurdles in the way [of the deal]. It was a sign of how positively engaged and committed the UK government is to this company.” He welcomed proposed governance changes at EADS, which is controlled by the French and German governments through a series of direct and indirect shareholdings.

 David Cameron joined AirAsia’s Group CEO Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes to tour the facility and meet some of the staff who will help build the aircraft. AirAsia is the largest A320 Family airline customer in the world, with 475 orders for the A320 family.
Tom Williams, Executive Vice President, Programmes and senior UK representative for Airbus said: “This order comes as a huge boost for the teams in Broughton and we are delighted to welcome the Prime Minister and the Chief Executive of AirAsia to the plant to see the skills and expertise of the team in action today.”

Airbus President & CEO Fabrice Bregier attended the event and will promote this type of events in the future in other Airbus production facilities, as they allow to join Airlines, Government representatives and Airbus in job-safeguard announcements, giving politicians the opportunity to redeem his image.

Based on article “David Cameron to unveil Airbus deal to safeguard 9,000 jobs” published in The Daily post, and on article “Cameron seeks to allay Airbus fears” published on The Financial Times.


14 December 2012

Operational Geo-Localization of torque tools at Pylon Assembly line

Numerous torque operations are included in the pylon assembly. There is a dedicated torque station for the primary structure, where all structural bolts are fastened manually by an operator. Advanced traceability of each process step is intended and this also foresees the geometrical location of each torque process.

This is done with the Oxford metrics system, a motion capturing solution from Vicon.

In contrary to general shop-floor localization, in this case the accuracy of positioning is a central factor, requiring magnitudes of mm, but the controlled area is therefore smaller and more specific, than with an “all-shop-floor-localization”. The Vicon tracking system is based on triangulation, performed by a camera system that captures the movement of a ball point structure. The positioning of the tool related to the pylon is realized by equipping each with reflecting ball points as shown in the pictures.

Several cameras analyze the recording of the ball point structure in 2D. The movement and distance thereby is calculated on the basis of the known size and geometry of the ball point structure. To retrieve the 3D data, several camera systems are combined in superposition.

13 December 2012

Orbital drilling is the best way for holes-drilling with high quality and finish.

Airbus purchased advanced drilling machines based on Novator’s patented orbital drilling technology for a total order value of €400,000. The machines are being used for the assembly of pylons for the Airbus A350 XWB at the assembly plant in St Eloi, France.

Using orbital drilling, Airbus will be able to drill on the Airbus A350 XWB pylons in one single step. The method is said to be more precise, uses dry drilling and avoids leaving chips and other residues in the structure.

“This order is important for us as we are involved in several projects within the aerospace industry validating the orbital drilling technology for production implementations,” said Novator CEO, Hans-Petter Andersson. “Airbus is the first company to conclude the validation process and place an order. This will help other companies in their decision to introduce the next generation of drilling technology in their production lines. The aerospace industry faces real challenges when introducing advanced materials in the aircraft designs, and orbital drilling has a large potential for decreasing manufacturing costs.”

Boeing has also ordered the same drilling machines for the 787 assembly line in Everett.

The Orbital Portable M-Series is based on Novator's patented Orbital Drilling¢â technique that enables drilling of holes with high quality and finish while reducing the machine inventory and the cutting times. Orbital DrillingTM is a drilling technique where the cutter is revolving in a mechanically forced eccentric movement while simultaneously rotating around its own axis. In Orbital DrillingTM, the thrust force is very low which results in higher hole quality and is one of the factors that opens up for dry drilling. Dry drilling makes coolant obsolete and reduces environmental and health hazards.

12 December 2012

Fan blade-off test, probably the most spectacular test in the engine certification campaign

During the test, a fan blade is deliberately detached

The fan blade-off test conducted at one of Rolls Royce's two indoor test sites in Derby (the 58-bed) is a specific form of air safety testing required by the Certification Authorities to certify safety performance of the Trent XWB. A final spin rig test was done before in Germany.

The blade-off test, in which a fan blade is deliberately detached while the engine is running at maximum thrust, is done to make sure that the engine can survive a compressor/fan blade breaking off within the engine and a turbine blade breaking off within the engine, without fragments being thrown through the outside enclosure of the engine. The test does not require that the engines continue to operate after the blade failures, only that no fragments penetrate the engine outer casing and that it not vibrate badly enough during its shutdown that it will tear loose from the aircraft, barring other failures.
click on the image to watch the spectacular video of the A380 test. A350 engine is bigger.

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge during a recent visit to a R-R factory in Singapore where the engine for 787 is manufactured.

11 December 2012

Main Landing Gear for -1000 will be so different.... 6 wheels bogie and manufactured by an american company

The main landing gear for the -1000 variant of the A350 XWB will be provided by Goodrich when Messier-Dowty is supplying the main landing gear for the smaller A350-900 and -800.

"The A350-1000 operates at higher design weights than the A350-900/-800 and features an all-new, 6-wheel main landing gear compared to the 4-wheel design of the other A350 models. Airbus launched a call for tender to secure best overall value for the A350-1000. After thorough evaluation of the competitive bids - covering a wide range of criteria - Goodrich was selected" said Airbus.

The contract with Goodrich covers the design, test, manufacture and in-service support of the A350-1000's main landing gear.

Goodrich says it expects to generate more than $2 billion in original equipment and aftermarket revenue for the firm over the life of the program. It says the work will represent "a global effort" involving Goodrich locations in Canada, the United States, Poland, India and France, as well as collaboration with Goodrich's global supply chain.

"This selection represents a continuation of Goodrich's growing relationship with Airbus as a key landing gear supplier," said Jack Carmola, president of Goodrich's actuation and landing systems segment. "This program will allow us to leverage our experience as the landing gear supplier on the A380 program and continue with this success onto the A350-1000." 

The question is why a new supplier for -1000 model instead of French Messier-Dowty as -900 variant? 

Goodrich is not a new supplier for Airbus and for A350 XWB Program:

-Goodrich is providing all three members of the A350 XWB family's nacelle and thrust reverser system, wheels and carbon brakes, air data system and ice detection system, external video system and cabin attendant seats.
-Goodrich is providing the MLG for A380.
-Goodrich has a huge experience with Boeing´s MLGs and in 2012 has received a Boeing Performance Excellence Award for its landing gear business. The award is issued annually in recognition of superior supplier performance. Goodrich's landing gear business maintained a silver composite performance rating for the 12-month period from October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011.

Finally and more curious: for A330/A340 the MLG is provided by Messier-Bugatti-Dowty but wheels & carbon brackets are produced neither by Goodrich nor by Messier; they are manufactured by Goodrich-Messier, Inc. a joint venture company which jointly design wheels and brackets and they do it very well:  Airbus recently recognized Goodrich-Messier Inc. with the Gold award for Best Improver for excellent on-time delivery and quality performance during 2011 inside the SQIP project (Supply Chain & Quality Improvement Program). “The Gold award resulted from a dedicated focus by cross functional teams from both companies on product harmonization and control which delivered zero rejects in 2011 with on-time delivery performance of 97 percent.”
For A350 XWB, wheels and brakets will be selected by Airlines between Goodrich and Messier, considering both will be certificated before EIS.

10 December 2012

A350-800 not to be cancelled but A330 improved to maintain 787 under pressure

Airbus said it will stick with the smallest variant of its A350 XWB family to provide a challenger for every version of Boeing’s 787, even after launch customer Qatar Airways switched to the A350-1000 bigger model.

Scrapping the baseline plane would leave Airbus vulnerable to the similar 787-9, Chief Operating Officer John Leahy said in an interview.
A350-800 key changes vs 900. Courtesy EADS Global Investor Forum

Airbus’s older A330, which won some earlier competitions against 787, doesn’t have the range to combat the 787-9 and even the 787-8, Leahy said, adding: “For the longer range you’ll need the A350-800.” 800 A330s have been sold since 787 launch and there is a A330 take-off or landing every 25 seconds, with 99.0% reliability.

Airbus is meanwhile looking at increasing production of the A330 to 11 aicraft a month, up from 9.5 now and 10 next spring, Leahy said. A330 orders continue arriving to Airbus headquarters.

Based on article “Airbus to Stick With A350-800 Even as Airlines Favor Bigger Jets” published in Bloomberg.

09 December 2012

MIRA augmented reality technology used for checking the pylon assembly

In the Pylon Assembly line, it has been used MiRA (Mixed Reality Application), a three-dimensional (3D) viewing device, to save time and cost.

 click the image to watch the video of the pylon assembly&check process

In 2009, EADS Innovation Works and Airbus set about developing a collaborative project to help automate the aircraft production process. Three years later, Airbus quality inspectors in St.Eloy are using MiRA, to compare aircraft on the production line with their 3D digital mock-ups.
click the image to watch the video of the pylon assembly&check process

The genesis of MiRA took it through the following process:
- From 2009 Innovation Works developed MiRA’s technological foundations. This included software and hardware development and integration (camera and motion sensors).

 - In 2010, Innovation Works and Airbus built a business case for MiRA, while also progressing to a more mature prototype.
 - In early 2011, Airbus decided to fast track MiRA’s development, in order to ensure its availability in time for A350 XWB series production at the end of 2011. Technology development was completed and a production supply chain put in place

click the image to watch the video of the pylon assembly&check process
MiRA is now in use on the A380 and A350 XWB production lines, being used to check the secondary structural brackets that hold systems such as hydraulics and pipes in place. The target is to reduce the time needed to check tens of thousands of brackets in the fuselage as well as high reduction in late discoveries of damaged, wrongly positioned or missing brackets.