Work has begun, in Broughton's North factory, on the automated drilling of the upper covers of the left-hand wing for A350 XWB MSN001. This is the first time an automated horizontal wing-drilling process has been used on any Airbus programme.
Manufacturing Manager Peter Grimes explained there are 12 drilling machines in total covering the different jigs. Each wing requires one upper and up to two lower cover machines to enable four wings to be drilled at any given time.
The upper cover machines are fixed, but the lower ones can be moved between the jigs for maximum efficiency. "There are around 4,500 holes to be drilled on each cover, upper and lower" said Peter.
"The automated machines use software that translates the design data and ensures every hole is drilled in its exact location with complete accuracy. The drilling machines have also been designed to insert the fasteners into each hole automatically.