The first composite lay-up for the A350 XWB has been manufactured today in Nantes, France, and marks the ‘coming to life’ of Airbus’s new long range aircraft. This panel for the centre wing-box (CWB), entirely made of carbon, has a surface area of 36 square meters, making it the largest “monobloc” composite panel ever manufactured in Nantes, using a new state-of-the-art laying machine. Once assembled in Nantes, the CWB will be delivered to Airbus Saint-Nazaire for integration.
Along with other Airbus facilities, the Airbus plant in Nantes has a high expertise in composite material and is a leader in the manufacture of carbon fibre structural parts, such as the centre wing box and the keel beam for the A350 XWB. On the all-new aircraft Family, 53 per cent of the aircraft by weight will be composite-based, including major elements such as wings and fuselage.
“This key milestone for the A350 XWB programme has been made possible through Airbus’ methodical and evolutionary approach to incorporating composites in its aircraft, and the consequent experience gained over many years,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus Chief Operating Officer.
Didier Evrard, Head of the A350 XWB programme added: “The A350 XWB is becoming real, and further builds on our expertise in key areas such as: materials technology; predictive stress analysis and design; composite manufacturing; and composite engineering and assembly, including manufacturing processes and tool technology concepts.”
The A350 XWB Family is Airbus’ response to widespread market demand for a series of highly efficient medium-capacity long-range wide-body aircraft. With a range of up to 8,300nm / 15,400km, it is available in three basic passenger versions. Moreover, it has the widest fuselage in its category, offering unprecedented levels of comfort, the lowest operating costs and lowest seat-mile cost of any aircraft in this market segment. Powered by new-generation Rolls-Royce Trent engines, the A350 XWB Family is designed to confront the challenges of high fuel prices, rising passenger expectations, and environmental constraints.
Firm orders for the A350 XWB now stand at 505 from 32 customers worldwide.