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Airbus aims to finally start assembling first A350 centre wingbox in August

Escrito por blogjfa 29-07-2010 en General. Comentarios (0)

Airbus expects to begin assembling a key subsection for the first A350 in August as it strives to keep on the programme's revised schedule and achieve a first flight in mid-2012.

Under the adjusted plan revealed in April, construction of the centre wingbox for A350 number one was scheduled to begin around mid-year at Airbus's plant in Nantes. This was three months later than originally planned after Airbus decided to use some margin to fine-tune the design of the fuselage structure. However, a manufacturing issue with metallic parts has delayed the start of assembly slightly further, with it now to begin in August, says A350 programme chief Didier Evrard.

"There was a problem with the machining of some aluminium lithium fittings by a supplier, but this is fixed so we can start the centre wingbox assembly for MSN001 in August," he says. "This was the latest we could start the assembly process without impacting the programme."

A key milestone in the XWB's production programme was the commissioning of the tooling for keelbeam in Nantes in June, says Evrard. "This is a large piece of machinery that enables the lower shell of the keelbeam and the lower panel of centre fuselage to be laid up in one go. We'll start using this tooling in August so we can begin assembling the first keelbeam before year-end."

Meanwhile, the tooling for the four carbonfibre wing covers (two upper and two lower) have been delivered from the USA to Airbus's plants in Illescas, Spain, and Stade, Germany. These will be used to produce the first wing covers in August.

"The next six months will see all the critical first composite parts for MSN001 being constructed," says Evrard. "There will be one pre-production run [of components] to test the integrity, then we'll do MSN001."

Final assembly of the first A350 will begin in Toulouse in September 2011, with first flight in mid-2012 and deliveries starting to Qatar Airways a year later.

Unlike Boeing's schedule with the 787, Airbus's objective is to begin full-scale fatigue testing at the start of 2012, six months before the first flight. Boeing is yet to begin this exercise, but says it aims to start "very soon".

Airbus secured a memorandum of understanding for 15 A350s from HK Airlines at Farnborough for delivery from 2018, through the conversion of part of its existing commitment for 23 A330s. Meanwhile, Kuwaiti lessor ALAFCO has switched its 12 A350-800s to the larger -900 variant. Separately, the airframer's Chinese composite manufacturing joint venture has contracted Spain's Alestis Aerospace to supply parts for the A350's belly fairing. Production in China is due to begin in 2012

Too Late, Many Have Already Written Off The CSeries

Escrito por blogjfa 29-07-2010 en General. Comentarios (0)

Summary

The fact is the CSeries was a failure at the Farnborough Air Show and many airlines have indeed written it off as such. A white elephant in the making...?
 
 
 

Analysis

Bombardier has for months conveniently “blamed” the recession as the reason behind the lack of interest behind the CSeries. It may as well have gone the whole hog and blamed the price of bread and even the BP oil spill as contributory factors as well if it needed scapegoats.

The reality is much different and more recently the company finally admitted that the real reason for the feigned interest is because airlines are interested in what Airbus and Boeing offer in relation to updated A320s and 737s.
 
In the six long years the CSeries has been around, its market rejection has been even more fatal than that of the equally market rejected disaster that is the Airbus A380.
 
Of the orders the CSeries will find, there will not be a single airline anywhere that today which operates the A320/737 fleets who will churn them over in full for the Bombardier effort. There may be dual operations at a carrier with CSeries and/or A320/737, but the CSeries won’t be the incumbent ahead of the A320 or 737 (or their eventual replacements).
 
The last true victor in this segment was the 737 family (comprising the 737-100, 737-200 & 737-300) which combined secured over 2,200 orders and deliveries over a production run of 32 years. By that metric alone, the CSeries is way, way behind. Six years after launch, the 737 family had amassed some 263 orders with 241 deliveries across three variants. Even the Airbus A320 managed 132 deliveries in the first six years since its launch.
 
Contrast that with the CSeries – six years after twice being (re)launched, no deliveries, two variants and two thirds of their customer base refuses to take delivery of the first example.