A380 fuselage centre section
Alenia is the largest non-Airbus European A380 partner, and as risk sharing partner, supplies the entire fuselage centre section. It also provides engine nacelles for the A380, A330 and A320 family. So Alenia is well known in Airbus and has large composite know how.
In June/2008, Airbus CEO Tom Enders said “Alenia would be good partner for A350”. But in that moment, the two wing and six fuselage major aerostructure risk-sharing packages that Airbus was "outsourcing" were already placed.
"We want to and will be able to participate, not only for fuselage but also for the empennage - the horizontal and vertical fin - because we also have the new technology of Foggia plant," said Alenia Composite chief operating officer Maurizio Rosini to Flighglobal in July/2008.
In that moment, the major outstanding A350 aerostructure allocations included the horizontal and vertical tailplanes, belly fairing, rear fuselage, tailcone, pylon components and wing movables. Finally the empennage went to Spain (Aciturri and Aernnova) and the engine nacelles to USA (Goodrich).
Goodrich A350 XWB engine nacelle
Perhaps we have to find the reason of Airbus´ decision in the 787. Not everything is the price and risks have to be assessed.
Alenia produces the horizontal stabilizer, the central and aft sections of the fuselage (using one-piece barrel technology), that is 14% of the 787’s structure
But the problems that Alenia has suffered in the 787 (contributing to the extended delays in the program) forced Boeing to make decisions .
Alenia manufactures and assembles the 787-8 Horizontal Stabilizers
Quality issues in the Horizontal Stabilizer:
In the 787-8 Horizontal Stabilizers Alenia was struggled with quality “issues”, forcing Boeing to inspect 23 aircraft for workmanship deficiencies. The problem centered on the brackets that attach the stabilizer to the fuselage, where they found improperly installed shims used to close the gap between the structures and excessive torque of associated fasteners.
In an effort to resolve the aforementioned “issues,” Boeing conducted an assessment of Alenia’s manufacturing processes, which resulted in the need for still more inspections of 787s. “We had an issue with the horizontal stabilizer with our Alenia partner and found some additional things that we need to go in and verify,” said Boeing CEO Jim Albaugh.
Immediately, Alenia lost sole-source status on 787-9 horizontal stabilizer and moved primary responsibility for the component to Boeing’s Advanced Development Center in Seattle, and after the industrialization, the manufacturing & assembly will be done at Boeing Salt Lake City, Utah facility.
Central and aft sections of the 787 fuselage manufactured by Alenia
Quality issues in the fuselage sections:
Alenia also impacted the 787 with issues caused by a stringer trim machine at the fuselage barrel production site in Grottaglie in Italy, forcing Boeing to reinforce #25 aircraft with patches and to add extra plies to future production barrels. The production of barrels was stopped following the discovery of “wrinkles” in the skin close to the join area between the Alenia-built Sections 44 and 46. The problem was linked to the improper size of the stringer edge steps, which are integrally bonded into the skin during the assembly process. These edges are slightly too large, causing undulations or wrinkles to appear in the skin plies around the fuselage adjacent to the passenger door close to the wing trailing edge.
Impacted by fasteners´issue:
With the origin in an problem with the clarity of the specifications and the confusion of the instructions for fastening titanium to composite in the inside fuselage sections, required replacing up to 8,000 of the fasteners on each of the first dozen planes that were in various stages of completion. Alenia´s manufactured fuselage sections were impacted in the rework.
Ramp up risk mitigation in Alenia:
And now, Boeing has nominated a new vice president of supply-chain management and operations for Italy, formerly vice president and general manager of final assembly and delivery at the North Charleston plant. Marco Cavazzoni’s primary responsibility will be to work closely with Alenia, “ensuring the supply-chain health as Boeing increase the production rate to 10 per month”. Mr. Cavazzoni is a well-regarded problem-solver within the Boeing organization, “so apparently there are some maintenance and supply-chain issues that he’s going to resolve”
Based on article “Alenia pushes for A350 work as Spirit lands wing deal” published in FlighGlobal and also based on article “Boeing S.C. executive to oversee supply chain in Italy” published in The Post and Courier.