Blog A350 XWB News

Innovation, R&D, DMU, advance tech, new tools ... but a physical mockup is required

Escrito por blogjfa 29-08-2012 en General. Comentarios (0)


A new program as A350 XWB is a cutting edge in tools, processes, materials, facilities, technologies, virtual reality tools, digital mock up, lasers and multi-axis machinery, etc. A huge investment in all kind of equipments has been done all around the world by Airbus and it´s risk sharing partners.

And it is surprising that a physical mockup is required for the development of a new aircraft in the 21st Century.

Cabin zero under construction in Hamburg

Airbus has an aluminum & steel mock up at Hamburg as Bombardier has a CSeries mockup made from wood at Mirabel facility.


The story and rationale for a physical mockup is essentially this.  A computer, even when working with the latest software that projects components in 3D, might limit what a mechanic has to go through in working on the airplane.  A digital mockup can check virtually everything.  But physical mockups are useful for debugging and maturing complex systems and components prior to first flight.  For example, a physical mockup allows for aircraft factory workers to practice assembly, airline mechanics to practice maintenance and operational checks. Working with a physical mockup can sometimes also identify small issues that can be fixed.

Humans manage and monitor the manufacturing and the assembly process. This human component drives the value of creating physical mockups. Physical mockups help to debug and mature, even improve, complex systems and components prior to first flight.

Lessons Learnt

Airbus has an “aircraft zero” in Toulouse where it is testing all the flight systems.  In Hamburg it has “cabin zero”, where all cabin-related system functions are tested on 15 benches plus a physical mockup.  Airbus builds 'physical mock-up' of XWB fuselage to avoid A380 mistakes.  One of the lessons is that you had best replicate the cabin as close to reality as possible.  Airbus believes that doing this could save between 25%-30% of the flight test time. "The DMU is a fantastic tool, but the lesson learned from the A380 was that we needed to go further to anticipate system installation problems," says A350 program manager Didier Evrard. "This was a large burden we carried on the A380 program and this is why we've built this physical mock-up." 

Cabin Zero V&V (verification and validation) platform

 The mock-up, dubbed "MSN5011", is 37m long and comprises fully equipped fuselage sections 11/12 (nose), 13/14 (forward) and 16/18 (aft), with three passenger doors on each side and the three cargo hold hatches. It will be fully furnished with seats, lining and monuments in a layout based on the arrangement of the A350 cabin flight-test aircraft MSN002.

"The cabin can be linked to functional system integration benches, such as the air system - to look at air distribution - or the IFE system," says McConnell. "This will enable us to achieve a good standard of maturity before we fly our first furnished aircraft, MSN002."

Aircraft manufacturers have learned the lessons and costs of delays, and new programs benefit substantially from the use of physical mockups. Even in the 21st Century a physical mockup is very useful.


Based on the article “The Case For Analog Mockups” published in AirInsight, and on the article “Airbus builds 'physical mock-up' of XWB fuselage to avoid A380 mistakes“  published in Flight International.

Fixed windows for pilots in the nose fuselage. And where is the emergency exit?

Escrito por blogjfa 28-08-2012 en General. Comentarios (0)


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.

Old nose fuselage configuration from 2006 based on A380

In the first A350 configuration (before 2008´s revision that re-named the aircraft as XWB Xtra Wide Body), the nose fuselage was similar to the A380 as it can be seen in the photo above.

And what it the reason?

Airbus 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.

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.

787 (in the left) and A350 XWB (in the right) includes the escape hatch in the roof

Beluga transport aircraft will be busy in the coming weeks

Escrito por blogjfa 26-08-2012 en General. Comentarios (0)

A lot of work for the Beluga in next weeks delivering big components of A350 XWB to the FAL in Toulouse from UK, Germany and Spain. 


These are the final shipsets expected to arrive the FAL in Toulouse the coming weeks by Beluga:

-RH wing for MSN5000 – Static Specimen. From Broughton  UK

-LH wing for MSN5000 – Static Specimen. From Broughton  UK

-Centre Fuselage section 15 for MSN001 from St.Nazaire (France)

-Aft Fuselage for MSN001 from Hamburg (Germany)

-Horizontal Stabilizer for MSN001 from Getafe (Spain)

-Vertical Stabilizer for MSN001 from Stade (Germany)

-RH wing for MSN001 from Bremen (Germany)

-LH wing for MSN001 from Bremen (Germany) 

Additionally, the Beluga transport aircraft will continue making the standard flight delivering from Spain and Germany to UK the lower and upper wing covers, and the fuselage sections between German & French plants.

The transportation system to airlift the large sections is performed by a fleet of five A300-600ST Super Transporters "Beluga"

Weight reduction versus Schedule... Batches for modifications with cost impacts

Escrito por blogjfa 25-08-2012 en General. Comentarios (0)

In a long article written in Frankfurt, where Airbus (Andreas Fehring, A350 senior vice president, head of fuselage and cabin) and “industry executives” are mentioned (only German Diehl Aerosystems  is nominated), there are some important messages from some “industry officials” to Airbus that need to be highlighted.

Stress Test for Supply Chain. Change Order


Airbus is doing everything to keep the A350 on the latest revised schedule and thereby please its early customers. But that means important changes must be incorporated later in production, incurring huge additional costs—for Airbus and its suppliers.

Airbus plans to introduce the A350 in several batches, each of which will incorporate changes, with the most significant modifications made in the transition from Batch 2 to 3. The changes affect parts and components throughout the aircraft, and suppliers have been given detailed design targets that specify the amount of weight reduction needed, among other things.

The batching approach is one way to try to protect the schedule for first flight and early deliveries from further impact of the changes needed.

·         Batch 1 (MSN1 to MSN4) will include all the flight-test aircraft and early production versions.

·         Batch2 (MSN5 to MSN16) will include the first round of relatively minor design changes.  

·         Batch3 (MSN17 to MSNXX)  will include the more fundamental upgrade.  

Andreas Fehring, A350 senior vice president, head of fuselage and cabin, confirms that Airbus has decided to incorporate the A350 changes by batches.



The A350's cabin is one major area in which upgrades are going to be made. From MSN17 on, 40% of cabin parts will be changed, industry officials say. Airbus neither confirms nor denies that figure. The redesign includes cabin bracketing—the way the interior is attached to the fuselage—and the air-conditioning system, as well as other interior components.

Other areas that will see significant modification are structural and wing components.


“Industry officials” point of view:

Diehl (German risk sharing partner in charge of the cabin interior) says the work is causing “additional engineering efforts” that are “not coming as a surprise.” The company acknowledges that the structural improvements “affect our workshare,” but it declines to confirm that it must replace 40% of parts. “All sorts of technical improvement, serving weight-reduction among others, are being constantly pursued in the industry to optimize the product,” says a company official. “The changes currently being worked on for the A350 will successively be taken over into series standard, which is going to happen in several batches. That is a normal process that has already been applied for the A380.”

“Nobody has the resources that are needed, neither Airbus nor the supply chain,” says the CEO of one European aerospace company. “There is going to be a fundamental cabin rework from Batch 2 to 3, plus the supply chain is ramping up development work for the A350-1000.” MSN17 is likely to be in final assembly by the end of 2013 or early 2014.

The CEO of an important Airbus supplier delivering a variety of parts says the batching “hurts us tremendously. We have to go through a new development process with each change,” which puts serious strain on his company's engineering resources and finances. He is also concerned that the planned steps are not the end of the story, since flight-testing could force more design amendments later. “But we need to have as few batches as possible,” he notes.


Airbus point of view:

“I can understand the comments in the supply chain,” says Fehring. “'First time right' is the target, but continuous improvement is also possible.” He says the exercise is “quite a normal process.” Improvements are being introduced “in MSN batches” on the A350, Fehring says, as opposed to the A380 approach, in which Airbus implemented changes with heads of versions (initial aircraft delivered to a new customer).

According to Fehring, the batching is necessary to accommodate developed performance improvements, industrial process findings and design mismatches, which he characterizes as “a lot of tiny things.”

Fehring indicates that the batching does not only affect the cabin. “We are driving improvements all over the aircraft to address technical performance or industrial handling,” he says. Richard Aboulafia

Analysts point of view:

“It sounds like [the Boeing] 787, 747-8 and [Lockheed Martin] F-35 to me,” says Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis at the Teal Group, referring to programs that had to incorporate late design changes during production ramp-up. “If you are missing important milestones, you get beaten up by the financial markets or your customers. . . . You want to meet time guarantees more than performance guarantees.”

Introducing upgrades later in production while keeping the schedule intact “is more of a problem in the long term,” Aboulafia asserts. One of the major issues of putting risks on balance sheets is the question of residual values, which become relevant when an operator plans to sell an early-batch A350. The approach is also very expensive, both for Airbus and its suppliers.


Weight or better said, overweight:

Fehring confirms that “continued weight improvement is always a target, but we do not need them to meet our performance guarantees.” In other words, Airbus says that even early 16 aircraft (Batch 1 and 2) A350s will not be overweight beyond contractual obligations.

Other industry executives have doubts, however. One senior official says the first aircraft will be so overweight that Airbus will have to pay damages to the affected customers. The weight-reduction effort has not been going according to plan.

Front fuselage for MSN001 is already in the FAL-Toulouse



Schedule update or better said, delay:

A further update on the schedule for first flight is expected in October, about a month after the wing for MSN1 is to arrive at the Toulouse final assembly line from Bremen, Germany, where it is being outfitted.

Industry officials say Airbus plans to make a major announcement regarding the A350 first-flight schedule at the end of October.


Ramp up:

Industry officials say the manufacturer plans to mate the fuselages and wings of #4 aircraft in 2012. It aims to do the mating for #12 aircraft in 2013, #24 in 2014 and #42 in 2015. Those numbers do not represent how many aircraft will be delivered in a particular year—the first A350 is not due for delivery until the second half of 2014. But it is an indication of the kind of production growth that is foreseen. Airbus declined to comment on the figures.

Based on article “Airbus Aims To Keep A350 On Schedule, By Batches” published in Aviation Week

FACC – Austrian Tier1 in A350 XWB in different workpackages.

Escrito por blogjfa 24-08-2012 en General. Comentarios (0)  

Fischer Advanced Composite Components.

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.

Spoiler and Droop panels:

FACC has developed and manufactured the spoiler for the Boeing 787 and also for the A350 XWB

In the case of the A350 XWB there are seven different spoilers and one flaperon per wing. Result in improved aerodynamic properties and a weight and cost-optimal design that integrates innovative fittings and vital spoiler functions in a unit ready to be installed.

Integrated spoiler (shown in the photos, the OLD in the upper and the NEW in lower)

From the OLD CONCEPT of an Aluminum forging fitting with several fasteners & plugs, padups, glass ply & higher density core that was labor intensive assembly to the NEW DESIGN -already implemented on A330 and A340- with RTM fitting and Spoiler/CHF integrated without fasteners/plugs, that is weight saving from integration and also more efficient for the assembly


But the spoilers will be in the future manufactured in China by CAC Commercial Aircraft Company (CCAC), chosen by Airbus to accomplish the commitment to manufacture 5% of the A350 XWB airframe in China.

After the industrialization and first aircraft manufacturing, until 2015, FACC will produce all shipsets at its facility of Ried in Austria. In parallel a second and completely independent production line will be established in China´s supplier. FACC will manage the training and complete industrial transfer, ensuring the robust capacity for a series long-term delivery & high-quality requirements in the program with the target that by 2017, 100 % of the required A350 XWB spoilers will be supplied by Chinese CCAC.

Wingtip and Winglet:

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.  



More info at