28 February 2013

Trent XWB engine ready for first flight

A couple of spare engines are being shipped to Toulouse to support the A350 flight-test programme in case an installed engine is damaged, for example by foreign object ingestion. Rolls-Royce engineers will fly on many A350 test flights to monitor engine performance.

"The engines are ready and capable to go to their limits from day one, should Airbus choose to do so," says Young. "The program - which we're fully supporting with our initial flight-compliant engines - has a very clear aim to make sure that first flight is prior to the Paris air show."

Based on the article “All eyes on XWB” published in FlightGlobal

27 February 2013

Airbus adopting a “minimum-change approach”.

Tom Enders says EADS has become more risk-averse following its troubles with Airbus A380 production, instead adopting a “minimum-change approach.”
With this approach, the manufacturer is minimizing airframe and cockpit changes on new aircraft, such as the A350 XWB, and focusing more on “aircraft engines and all the systems that are related to engines,” said Enders. EADS also is increasing its emphasis on reliability, delivering aircraft on time with the promised operational ability.

 EADS CEO Enders jumping from the Airbus Military A400M airlifter when he wasn´t so risk-averse

“That drives us, where we can, to modify existing aircraft, rather than going into all new development with all the risks,” Enders said, citing the Airbus NEO program as an example. An Airbus spokesman at the luncheon noted that the “minimum-change approach” also reduces the time to market, is less labor intensive and uses fewer engineering resources.
Enders is not ruling out a second engine option for the A350 beyond the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB should a manufacturer provide a good alternative, but says the lack of an option is not hurting sales of the aircraft.

Based on the article “EADS Reviewing Revenue Goals” published in Aviation Week

26 February 2013

A350 XWB MSN001 leaves hangar for outdoor ground testing

The first A350 XWB – MSN001 – now showing its completed wings, has been moved to its next phase of ground testing, from Roger Béteille A350 XWB FAL “Station 30” to the Clément Ader area “Station 18” in Toulouse. The aircraft is structurally complete and shows the installed winglets, belly fairing panels, main landing gear doors.

The aircraft has recently completed successfully a series of indoor ground tests as well as stability tests on ‘movable’ elements such as rudder, elevators, ailerons and wing spoilers and landing gears extraction/retraction. The next steps which will take place outdoors at the Station 18 ground test station will include three planned families of tests: Fuel tanks testing – including levels, flows, sealing and internal fuel transfer functions; pressure testing of the fuselage; and radio equipment testing.

25 February 2013

Airbus to decide in 2013 if adding another assembly line for A350-1000.

Airbus said it’s looking to add another assembly line for the new A350 wide-body plane to meet rising demand as Airlines show no sign of putting orders on hold after Boeing’s battery troubles with the 787 Dreamliner.
With more than 600 orders placed for the A350, due for its first flight this summer before deliveries begin in the second half of next year, Airbus is looking at adding capacity for the largest -1000 variant, chief operating officer John Leahy said.

“I would like to believe that sometime this year we’ll be able to make a decision to do that,” Leahy, who is also Airbus’s chief salesman, said in an interview in Singapore. Production of the baseline A350-900 began in October/2012, with the smaller -800 due to enter service in 2016 followed by the -1000 in 2017.
Demand for new models will continue to be driven by a need to cut fuel bills, Leahy said, adding that Boeing will find a fix for the 787’s glitches, which won’t ultimately impact sales at either manufacturer.

Leahy said that the A350 has been “very popular” in Asia. That’s after Airbus Chief Executive Officer Fabrice Bregier said on 23/Oct he was confident the company could sell 70 or 80 -1000 variants a year as customers upgrade to bigger jets, compared with a previous planning assumption of 40 or 50.
The 350-seat -1000, which has a list price of $332 million, broke a four-year sales drought on 11/July as Cathay Pacific Airways of Hong Kong placed an order for 10 aircraft. The model has accrued 105 firm commitments in total.

Based on the article “Airbus Plans A350 Assembly Boost as 787 Woes Fail to Dent Sales” published in Bloomberg

24 February 2013

Competition of Pratt & Whitney against Rolls Royce in the A350-900 engine: too late.

Pratt & Whitney is considering building an engine for the A350 long-haul plane to challenge Rolls-Royce’s monopoly on the new aircraft, people familiar with the plan said.
Pratt & Whitney would offer an engine based on its PW1000G geared turbofan technology, said the people, who asked not to be named because the plan isn’t public. A decision to formally pursue the program may come as soon as this year, one of the people said.

Airbus had originally sought a second engine offering to Rolls-Royce’s TrentXWB on its A350. It had failed to persuade either General Electric, which powers the competing Boeing 777, or Pratt & Whitney, which was tied up developing the geared turbofan. Airlines including Air France-KLM have said they’d welcome a choice because it would give them leverage on maintenance, a major source of revenue for Rolls-Royce.
Airbus would have to sign off on the Pratt plan before airlines could opt for the engine. The company is “happy that the one engine we have on offer has already achieved 617 sales,” spokeswoman Marcella Muratore said. “However we have always said that we would consider other offers if they are competitive in terms of performance.”

“As Pratt & Whitney looks ahead to powering future wide- body applications, we will scale the geared turbofan architecture to the required thrust levels,” the company said. “We continue to keep all airframers informed of our progress on the PW1000G family, including studies with Airbus for potential wide-body applications.”
Managing Resources
Pratt & Whitney’s A350 engine would have to be more than twice as powerful as its existing versions. The company, a subsidiary of United Technologies, has undertaken studies that show the leap can be made even if technical hurdles must be overcome, one person said.
The engine maker remains interested in using its technology to power big jets, Bob Saia, who oversees Pratt’s next- generation products, said in an interview this month. Pratt decided not to compete for a spot on the upgraded version of Boeing’s 777 due around the end of the decade, a program drawing interest from GE and Rolls-Royce, the industry leaders.

Approved Engine
Development of Pratt engines for regional and single-aisle jets is nearing an end, with the turbines in flight testing. That’s freed up resources to pursue a slot on larger airliners.
Rolls has won exclusive rights from Airbus to offer the TrentXWB on the A350-1000, the largest model, while its position on the -900, the first and most popular version, and on the smaller -800, can be challenged.
The unique airline mentioned in this article is Air France-KLM. With an order of 25 A350-900 on stand by since Sep/2011. Air France has been trying to gain rights to maintain engines from Rolls-Royce as part of this long-planned order for A350s. Failure to strike an agreement between the airline, which wants to bolster its technical unit, and the engine maker, which wants to protect its profitable after-sales income, has delayed a deal.

Based on the article “Pratt & Whitney Said to Study Airbus A350 Engine to Rival Rolls” published in Bloomberg.

23 February 2013

Air France-KLM postpones again the 25 A350 XWB order signature because there is no agreement with Airbus and Rolls Royce yet.

Franco-Dutch carrier Air France-KLM expects to sign a definitive order for a long-delayed purchase of Airbus A350 long-range jets "during 2013", Chief Executive Jean-Cyril Spinetta told a news conference.

Air France Chief Executive Alexandre de Juniac had said last month that it hoped to complete the purchase by the end of March.
"The contract is still being negotiated with Airbus," Spinetta said. "It should be signed during 2013."
Air France-KLM placed the provisional $7 billion order for 25 wide-bodied A350-900 passenger jets in September 2011 at the same time as ordering 25 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, a deal which has since been confirmed.

Air France is under discussions with Rolls-Royce on engine maintenance and under discussions with Airbus on A380 claims to compensate for the loss of profits linked to many A380 delays/cancellations due to technical problems. Air France has not selected the engines for the 787 order signed with Boeing.

Based on the article “Air France-KLM sees Airbus A350 deal this year” published in Reuters


22 February 2013

Another key contributor to the reduced fuel consumption of the A350 XWB installed in the MSN1; winglets..

The A350 XWB winglets have been painted in Toulouse and installed on MSN1, revealing for the first time the full shape of the 32-metre A350 XWB wing.

The A350 XWB winglets have been designed to achieve the best aerodynamic performance and are a significant contributor to the reduced fuel consumption of the aircraft. Manufactured in composite by FACC, they are 2.3m wide at the basis and 2m high. They are pre-fitted by FACC so that only mechanical assembly remains to be done in the FAL.

The complete wing cannot fit into the Beluga and that´s the reason the installation needs to be performed in the FAL, where the winglets are fixed to the wing with about 80 fasteners all around the winglet.

The winglets are painted before installation on the aircraft allowing the Customer an early visual identification of the aircraft (as with the Vertical Tail Plane). For MSN1, the winglets have been customized with Airbus colors in the same facility where A320 sharklets are painted.  

21 February 2013

Trent XWB test program: 11 powerplants used with more than 3000 test hours

A total of 11 Trent XWBs have participated in the test program to date, accumulating more than 3,100h in ground tests and aboard the A380 testbed.
Still under way are some final tests needed to secure FAA cross-certification, and then the focus will shift to securing early extended-range twin-engined operations approval. The target is to eventually certificate the A350 to fly up to 350min from the nearest suitable diversion airfield at single-engined flying speed.
The cold start capability of the Trent XWB has been extended down to -26°C after winter demonstrations using the company's testbed in Manitoba, northern Canada, and this is expected to be further lowered to -40°C.
"We are now able to do far more full envelope testing, which is great for the reliability and maturity of the product," says Young.
Between 16 and 18 engines will have been assembled in the pre-production facility at Derby prior to the start of series production, in an effort to understand the optimum way of assembling the engine and to determine appropriate work-station content.
"Assembly hours are coming down nicely, as we learn how to build the engine," says Young. Fully-fledged flow-line assembly should begin by mid-2014, in time for the planned ramp-up in A350 production.
"We're very close to finalising our footprint and layout for the full flow-line facility," says Young.
Based on the article “All eyes on XWB” published in FlightGlobal

20 February 2013

Final assembly of the MSN3 starts at Toulouse ... two months later than announced

Build-up of the third A350 XWB has started at Toulouse final assembly line 2 months later than announced, where the aircraft’s 3 fuselage sections were transferred following their arrival aboard a Beluga transporter.

Designated MSN3, this aircraft will be deployed for a variety of fight testing – including performance at high and medium altitudes, in cold weather and hot temperatures and on long-range flights.

Initial assembly steps for MSN3 included installation of the jetliner’s 50-metre-long electrical harness for flight test measurements, which – along a complement of electrical cabinets – forms an advanced “supercomputer” called METRO.  This was followed by the fuselage sections’ successful moulding at the final assembly line’s Station 50.

There are two such Station 50 locations for fuselage join-up on the A350 XWB Final Assembly Line: the first, which is designated Station 50A, and another called 50B. MSN3 was the first aircraft joined on Station 50B, which had a higher readiness level thanks to debugging that followed the initial two jetliners’ assembly on Station 50A.
In coming days the FAL team will keep on drilling the fuselage join-up with around 10.000 holes and a fuselage sections overlap of only 8 cm.

“The whole process also is quicker thanks to high maturity of the sections and great efficiency of the teams who have already trained on the first two aircraft,” explained Airbus’ Loic Perrin, who in charge of Station 50.

19 February 2013

US aerospace manufacturers delegation visits the FAL

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut – shown here at the A350 XWB final assembly line – led a delegation of home-state aerospace manufacturers in a visit to Airbus’ Toulouse, France facilities.

Richard Blumenthal, the United States Senator for the state of Connecticut, led a delegation of home-state aerospace manufacturers in a visit to Airbus, in Toulouse, France.  Airbus is the largest export customer of the U.S. aerospace industry.  At Airbus the delegation met with Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier, Executive Vice President for Procurement Klaus Richter and other procurement officials. The delegation also toured the state-of-the-art A350 XWB and A380 Final Assembly Lines.

Formerly Connecticut’s Attorney General, the Senator was elected to the Senate in 2010.  He is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and also of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has responsibility over FAA and other transportation matters.

The three-day mission will take place from February 18-20, and will connect nine Connecticut precision manufacturers to senior procurement officials at Airbus, Goodrich Aerostructures, Aircelle, Liebherr, and DGA Techniques Aéronautiques.

Participating Connecticut companies include AdChem Manufacturing Technologies, AeroCision, Alpha Q Inc., Capewell Components, Jonal Laboratories, Microtech, Pegasus Manufacturing and SPX Precision Components. Jointly, the nine companies employ over 6,000 people in Connecticut. For many but not all of the firms, the trip will be the first introduction to Airbus and their top tier suppliers. Most of the companies are precision component manufacturers, providing highly specialized technology vital to aerospace engineering.

“I am proud to join these nine manufacturers in showing the European aerospace market the ingenuity, quality and value that Connecticut precision manufacturers can provide. It is my hope that this visit will help these outstanding companies expand their work internationally and add jobs here in Connecticut,” Blumenthal said.

18 February 2013

Austrian winglets for the A350 XWB

With around 1,800 employees, FACC is one of the world’s leading companies in the design, development and production of advanced fiber reinforced composite components and systems for the aviation industry. Their range of products reaches from structural components (spoilers and winglets in A350 XWB program) to engine components (in this case weight-optimised translating sleeves and engine components) to complete passenger cabins for passenger planes and helicopters (in A350 XWB, passenger door lining, smoke detection covers and overhead stowage compartments).

FACC also participates in other programs from Airbus (A380, A340, A320), Boeing (787), Bombardier, Embraer, Sukhoi, and COMAC as well as for engine manufacturers as Rolls Royce. With a manufacturing facility planned to be open in China, FACC has been a partner with Mubadala supporting them in the new Strata facility.   
With the maximum rate in the program, around 250 employees at the three production sites in Austria will be working on the production of the A350 XWB components.

FACC is responsible for the development, qualification including testing, the design and manufacture of the production tools as well as production and assembly of the individual components to create a system ready-to-install.

FACC team working in the program, with more than 100 experts, have been located in Austria, Bratislava and also on site at Airbus in Filton/UK.

With this project, FACC is also achieving new dimensions in component testing: so for the first time on parts of this size – the largest component measures six metres - full scale tests are being carried out at FACC. This involves subjecting the complete winglet system to static and dynamic testing for resilience, fatigue and endurance, up to mechanical failure.
The winglet unit consists of the wingtip (wing extension) and the attached winglet as can be watched in the croquis above. 

17 February 2013

Rolls-Royce is ready to demonstrate the maturity & service-ready credentials of the Trent XWB.

As a certification milestone is reached, Rolls-Royce is turning its attention to proving the maturity of the A350's Trent XWB powerplant ahead of first delivery next year.
Rolls-Royce is well aware that as sole engine supplier to the A350 it has a critical role in ensuring the European-built widebody enjoys a relatively trouble-free commercial debut.
Rolls-Royce is understandably endeavouring to leave no stone unturned as it seeks to demonstrate the maturity and service-ready credentials of the Trent XWB, its most advanced three-spool large turbofan.

Maturity and more maturity. Flying tests will continue on next 3 months.
An illustration of this determination is the fact that although all flight-test work required for certification of the Trent XWB has been completed, Airbus and Rolls-Royce have together decided to extend the campaign using the A380 flying testbed ahead of the A350's maiden sortie.

"We both consider that it's the right thing to do for powerplant maturity and we're both very supportive of making sure the powerplant is as mature as it possibly can be so as to not give [the A350] any form of problem at entry into service," says Trent XWB programme director Chris Young. "So we're prepared to carry on investing in the product between us," he adds.

The extra flying using the A380 - which first got airborne with the Trent XWB installed in February 2012 - facilitated additional systems tests and provided an opportunity to take the powerplant through its paces under extremely cold conditions.

The cold weather flying tests were performed in Iqaluit in Nunavut, Canada, where temperatures were -23°C (-9°F).

"This is all about proving the long-term service maturity of the engine and just carrying on getting experience in representative environments," says Young.

Final configuration vs. certification.
The engine installed on the A380 is the same one used for the most recent phase of certification testing, and is "very close" to the final configuration that will power the A350 on its first flight later this year.

"There are a few minor changes as always around things like pipe routings and some of the last minute external changes that we've found but overall it's very representative of the bill of material, which is why it makes sense to carry on flying and getting the evidence and data from it," says Young.

Based on the article “All eyes on XWB” published in FlightGlobal

16 February 2013

Mitigating a risk; Airbus drops Li-ion batteries to protect the EIS schedule.

Airbus has decided to drop lithium-ion batteries on the A350 XWB program to protect the EIS- entry into service schedule planned for mid-2014.

Airbus said the concerns did not necessarily center around the technology as such, but were caused mainly by the regulatory uncertainty following the 2 Boeing 787 incidents. Airbus was worried about late additional compliance criteria that could have been introduced by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The company plans to mature the technology further nonetheless.

Initial flight tests will be performed with lithium-ion batteries, because it is already too late now to implement the change for the early part of the flight test program. However, the A350 will later be certified with Nickel-Cadmium batteries.

“We confirm we are opting for nickel cadmium for the A350 main batteries to protect the programme schedule.  This decision is about protecting the integrity of our program schedule… (it’s not about any safety concerns about Li-ion batteries, we continue in parallel to mature for the A350.  With so much uncertainty raised by the Boeing 787 investigation, we are being prudent in order protect our programme schedule. This is business as usual.”
“As a result of making this decision now, Airbus does not expect it to impact the A350 XWB Entry Into Service schedule,” an Airbus statement added.

This switch of lithium-ion batteries to Nickel-Cadmium batteries also affects to the A320NEO as Airbus stated that the root cause of the 2 incidents occurring on Japanese 787s remains "unexplained, to the best of our knowledge".
The Ni-Cd batteries will be required for flight certification, so they'll be swapped before appropriate certification tests, as initial flight-envelope testing doesn't depend on battery type nor the source of electrical power.

Since Airbus is making this movement as a mitigation plan in a risk-reduction strategy, Boeing needs to prepare a contingency plan as the batteries issue has already impacted 787 production plan and budget and the 787 fleet remains grounded since mid-January.

Airbus will retain battery supplier Saft for the new scheme. Saft had been selected to supply lithium-ion batteries to the A350. Airbus is likely to use a version of batteries designed for the A380 defined as "proven and mastered" nickel-cadmium technology.

Airbus has yet to detail any specific electrical architecture changes which might be required as a result of the switch, but says it is taking the decision early in order to preserve the flight-test and entry-into-service schedule. The weight impact is estimated around 200 pounds / 90kgs.

"Special attention was given to mitigate the identified risks inherent to this technology," it says, adding that it will embark on "additional maturity studies" focusing on lithium-ion battery behaviour.

15 February 2013

Barrels or panels. A350 XWB is a little bit of a mix.

The innovation of the A350 XWB extends to the physical structure, and commencement of assembly has enabled Airbus to verify its strategy of opting for carbonfibre panels over a barrel-type design for the A350.

"It was a big debate at the beginning of the programme - barrels or panels," says Evrard. "It's a little bit of a mix. I think we made the right choice. The industrial process shows we made the right choice with our panel concept."

Based on article “Airbus sticks by demanding A350 XWB targets“ published in Flightglobal

14 February 2013

Lighting protection for A350 XWB

Lightning strikes are electrical discharges caused by lightning, typically during thunderstorms. Aircraft can be hit by lightning directly when flying but it will not be a surprise. Commercial aircraft sustain lightning strikes on average once every 10,000 hours in the sky.

Nowadays, lightning strikes are no longer a hazard, but they can cause damage.
click the image to watch a video
A350 XWB is designed to continue the flight after being hit by lightning and to substitute or repair the damaged area in the next stop. Because it will be hit by lightning once a year.

Lightning strike protection for composite airframes
The conduction and charging processes of CFRP panels are different and more complex than that of single metal panels. CFRP panels consist of several carbon-fibre layers embedded in special resins. A metallic mesh is inserted between the carbon-fibre layers. This is unlike a metal, the structure of which is uniform.
A direct hit from a lightning bolt with that current and voltage could create electrical discharge in composites that generate temperatures high enough to melt resins and weaken structures. The current method for mitigating this problem is to use a metallic layer on the surface of the composite. The composite component of the A350 XWB (as of the A400M) is a copper foil to dissipate electricity.
For the A350 XWB Airbus has developed an electrical structure network (ESN) which has been tested and certified in a full-scale environment using a barrel demonstrator. Due to the absence of metal in much of the fuselage it meant that the airframe could not complete electrical circuits in the usual way (as was the case for previous generation aircraft made from metal) and a new approach was needed.
The A350 XWB team devised a system called the ESN that uses the existing metallic structural elements of the fuselage alongside ‘raceways’ and ‘quick junctions’, which together fulfill both structural and safety roles as well as their original electrical function. Raceways are tracks running the length of the aircraft which provide many electrical functions, such as current return and electromagnetic compatibility.
They also offer protection against the effects of lightning strikes and short circuit, and support the electrical harnesses as well as commercial electrical and mechanical equipment such as air ducts. The ESN system is lightweight, and provides a very neat and simple electrical architecture which makes the installation of electrical harnesses and maintenance operations easier.
click the image to watch a video
The Morgan-Botti Lightning Laboratory visualises electrical discharge phenomena using high-voltage tests, computer modelling and simulations. The group use generators capable of delivering current up to 250,000A and 400,000V to simulate the ’worst-case scenario’ direct lightning strikes.

13 February 2013

Rolls-Royce moves the focus of their development team to the A350-1000 engine. After the PDR, the industrial activities are being launched immediately to have the first prototype ready for summer.

Rolls-Royce is preparing a prototype demonstration for the higher-thrust Trent XWB-97 engine which will be used on the A350-1000. This new engine is undergoing a separate development and approval process apart from the basic XWB-84 engine for the A350-900 that has been newly certificated. It is capable of delivering 84,000lb of thrust and the certification also covers the XWB-75 and -79 versions for the smaller A350-800.

The prototype will be built from an XWB-84 engine platform with additional turbine technology fitted, says Trent XWB programme director Chris Young.

He says this will allow the manufacturer to "run it as close as possible to [more demanding] conditions and temperatures".

Rolls-Royce intends to construct two demonstrators in 2013, with initial build about the begin. Young expects the first runs will start around the middle of 2013.

It held a preliminary design review for the XWB-97 powerplant in January. Young says this allows the manufacturer to move into detailed design of individual components, and work on the machining definition and initial casting to "get the prototype engine in place".

The XWB-97's basic dimensions - such as the fan size, mounting points and interfaces - remain the same as those for the XWB-84.

"But we take more flow through the fan, by spinning the fan faster, and changing some aerodynamics in the fan system," says Young. The changes include an inflected annulus and a larger core, and technical changes to extract more power. Technological advancements will include shroudless high-pressure turbine blades and an adaptive cooling system.

Young points out that the XWB-84 engine has already been run at thrusts "well in excess" of 100,000lb, and that the growth is "more about restoring margins than airflow".

The design review has confirmed that the higher-thrust engine will have 80% commonality with the XWB-84 in terms of line-replaceable units, with only fuel pumps and metering systems not retained.

Rolls-Royce has completed the latest build of its EFE technology platform in Bristol, which is based on the Trent 1000 core, and has carried out tests of high-temperature thermal paint. Young says that using a platform "as representative as possible" for the XWB-97 prototype will help with "risk reduction" during the powerplant's development.


Based on the article “Rolls-Royce prepares prototype A350-1000 engine” published in FlightGlobal

12 February 2013

A350 XWB is the first Airbus aicraft which emergency escape hatch for flightcrew is in the flightdeck roof.

For the first time on an Airbus aircraft the A350 XWB nose section's outer shape incorporates a flightcrew escape hatch, as the side windows are fixed and not openable.
When Airbus reconfigured the A350 in 2008 re-naming the aircraft as XWB Xtra Wide Body, they changed the shape of the upper radius and upper shell of the fuselage for aerodynamic reasons. And they refined the a six-windscreen layout and worked to minimize the centre post to improve the pilots' visibility.
Additionally, removing the opening direct vision cockpit windows for flightcrew emergency evacuation and including an escape hatch in the flightdeck roof instead, there is a weight reduction.
This was the result of a trade off after benchmarking the configuration Boeing was using in the 787.
787 (in the left) and A350 XWB (in the right) includes the escape hatch in the roof
The whole cockpit canopy section has aluminium alloy skin panels (in green primer in the photos), which offers "the best solution in terms of the overall balance between weight/cost/manufacturing process/bird impact test" as per Airbus.

11 February 2013

A350 XWB Supply Chain under very close supervision. Not only Spirit.

"Securing the supply chain is a priority objective," stated Fabrice Brégier. As for Airbus, it is "a need for a supply chain that delivers on time and ahead time".
The aircraft manufacturer had many aircraft late in December. Finnaly, and forced, Airbus managed to deliver all its aircraft in 2012. But the management of the "supply chain" is once again one of the great challenges of the year while suppliers are being sought for the high rates of Airbus but also other manufacturers on the start line of the ramp up.
In addition, technological challenges are also creating tensions. For example, the American Spirit, a central risk-sharing-partner for the A350 composite panels, apparently has problems to master some new developments for the program and its own supply chain. Airbus has sent its own teams to help Spirit in difficulty.
Didier Evrard during a visit to Spirit´s Kinston NC facility
This is also the case of Premium Aerotec on the A320.

While the financial situation of certain suppliers is tense, Airbus must necessarily consider the equity participation in the capital of undertakings in difficulties.

The aircraft manufacturer has done twice in the past. He has recently rescued Spanish Alestis in a similar way it done with the German PFW, ina a temporary operation.
Based on the article “A350, A380, A400M, "supply chain" tendue... les quatre grands défis d'Airbus pour 2013” published in La Tribune

10 February 2013

Airbus follows the investigation into the 787 Lithium-ion batteries closely and has prepared the back-up plan to change to more traditional Ni-Cd batteries if necessary.

Airbus said it was following the investigations into the 787 closely, and would evaluate any recommendation that “applies to us”; "Airbus continues to study the progress of the NTSB and once conclusions and subsequent recommendations are made, we will determine if they apply to us," Airbus spokeswoman Mary Anne Greczyn said. "Until then, we remain very interested in the authorities' investigation."

Airbus’s main plans for the A350 involve using lithium-ion batteries for starting the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit – which usually provides electricity for the jet when it is on the ground. But in parallel with these plans, it has developed a back-up proposal that involves using nickel-cadmium batteries.

 “Nothing prevents us from going back to a classical plan [for nickel-cadmium batteries] that we have been studying in parallel,” said Airbus. “We have all options open.”

 Airbus – like Boeing – is using lithium-ion batteries because they are smaller and lighter than equivalent devices based on nickel cadmium. Bombardier is using Nickel-Cadmium batteries for the CSeries.


Not too big impacts on schedule and on weight.

If Airbus had to abandon plans to use lithium-ion batteries on the A350, it is unclear how much the aircraft’s development timetable could be prejudiced. A switch to standard batteries would delay the A350 program by a couple of months.

Reverting to less volatile Nickel-Cadmium would mean sacrificing improvements in weight in the lighter Lithium-Ion batteries, equivalent to one adult male passenger out of between 270 and 350 passengers and cargo on board.

“The penalty in weight compared with the risks associated with Li-Ion is minimal,” said Nick Cunningham, an aerospace analyst at Agency Partners in London.

Plane and battery makers say the technology is safe but recognize it is in the early stages of use in commercial flying.

Maturity of the technology.

The move comes amid a wider rethink in the aerospace industry on whether the powerful but delicate backup energy systems are technically “mature”, they said.

Industry executives, insurers and safety officials said that the technology’s predictability was being questioned at senior levels as investigators struggle to find the cause of incidents that led to the grounding of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.



There is an increasing doubt over the technology,” said a person familiar with industry-wide discussions on the issue. “It may well be the future but for now it is a question of maturity. The information on the two incidents is not reassuring.”

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is examining a fire on a parked 787 at Boston airport a month ago, said last week it had identified where the fire broke out but not the cause and referred to a possibly long investigation ahead.

A spokesman for Airbus said the company would evaluate the outcome of the U.S. battery investigation: “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are no conclusions by the NTSB yet and the investigation is still ongoing.

However, experts say that if the 787 probe fails to provide clear answers soon, pressure may build for Airbus to pre-empt the findings and switch solutions to head off development risk.


Based on the article “Airbus May Switch A350 Battery to Avoid 787 Lithium Woes” published in Bloomberg



09 February 2013

Main reason for the A350 XWB to be a commercial success in comming years

Fuel efficiency is the key characteristic of A350 XWB to be real success between Airlines.

Airbus marketing team repeat constantly that the A350 XWB has 25% lower operating costs;
“Airbus brings together the very latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies in the A350 XWB to provide a 25% step-change in fuel efficiency compared to its current long-range competitor. Contributing to this performance are the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines that power the A350 XWB family.

Over 70 per cent of the A350 XWB’s weight-efficient airframe is made from advanced materials, combining 53 per cent of composite structures with titanium and advanced aluminum alloys. The aircraft’s innovative all-new Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) fuselage results in lower fuel consumption, as well as easier maintenance.”

And behind that there are data regarding the consumption versus the discovery of new reserves of fuel. (see above chart)

Average oil prices have rebounded to 2008 values and the forecast is to have oil prices growing and growing.

08 February 2013

Nose fuselage section manufacturing process at Aerolia Meaulte

Production is running up in the new 18,000m² (194,000ft²) composite unit at Aerolia's assembly site in Méaulte?

Unlike the cockpit fuselage sections of previous Airbus models, which consist of a single lower shell to approximately floor level, Section 11 forming the upper structure immediately around the flight deck and Section 12 extending aft until just behind the first set of passenger doors, the A350 XWB follows a different construction.

While the majority of the nose fuselage section has a carbon reinforced plastic (CFRP) structure and panelling, Section 11 is made of aluminium. Four composite panels cover the remaining part of the fuselage frame structure: the nose upper shell extending aft from above the cockpit windows; left- and right-hand side panels including the respective passenger door apertures; and a single panel to cover the lower area of sections 11 and 12, which are the largest of the four at approximately 30m².

All panels are manufactured in the new composite unit, which is divided into 3 main sections.
  • The initial clean room comprises a single production line for the composite lay-up, inclusion of stringers and preparation for curing of all four panel types. The CFRP material is built up on the male mould from the inside out, starting with the innermost layer and ending with the "outer skin". The female mould is then lowered, with the material "sandwiched" in between the two moulds so that everything can be turned around. The male mould is removed and stringers are added on the now freely accessible inner panel side.
  • The next section includes a 7m (23ft)-diameter, 11m-long autoclave, which allows to "bake" up to two panels - still on their female moulds - at a maximum temperature of 180°C (356°F) and pressure of 7-8bar (101-116psi) during a 10-hour curing process. The panel is then removed from the mould and freed of the protective foil to prevent adhesion to the mould. Thereafter, the panels enter a combined high-pressure water jet cum five-axis machine tool to trim the edges, cut openings and drill holes.
  • The final section houses a buffer zone for production panels, a quality control area with non-destructive testing (NDT) equipment and tools for possible repairs, a paint booth and oven, as well as the final panel assembly with four production lines. The panels are vertically suspended and fixed in metallic crates for protection and to ensure they maintain their shape while being in the buffer zone or being transported. Also, the production stations have been set up for the staff to work on vertically fixed panels for better ergonomics.

Marrying the panels with the externally produced carbon airframe components and locally manufactured metallic Section 11 takes place in the existing assembly facility, in which the nose fuselage sections of other models are taking shape.

Based on the article "Aerolia runs up A350 panel production" published in Flightglobal