Airbus has installed on the first flight-test A350 XWB (MSN001) its two flight-ready Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and is also installing the new Honeywell HGT1700 auxiliary power unit (APU) at Airbus’ production facilities in Toulouse (France). The new Trent engines were both received from UTC Aerospace Systems (formerly Goodrich) which had recently prepared the fully integrated powerplants prior to their installation on the aircraft’s pylons. Last month the Trent XWB received Engine Type Certification from EASA, confirming that the engine had fulfilled EASA’s airworthiness requirements for flight. The Trent XWB has already powered a series of test flights on Airbus’ A380 Flying Test Bed (FTB) aircraft since February 2012, demonstrating a high level of maturity. In parallel to the mounting of the two Trent XWB engines in Toulouse, the A350 XWB is also this week being fitted with its new specially developed APU – the Honeywell HGT1700 which has greater power density and higher efficiency than the previous generation APUs.
More importantly, the aircraft’s first flight which is scheduled for this summer is expected as a practical test of applied innovation:
When the Airbus A350 XWB takes to the skies for the first time this summer it will be a momentous achievement for Airbus and one of the proudest moments in Hexcel’s 65 year history – especially as every aircraft that takes to the skies generates over $4 million in sales for the US composites manufacturer. The A350 XWB is the first Airbus with a structure that is over 50% composites – 53% in fact, whereas composite materials constituted only 15% of the structure of the A340 and 23% of the A380. The airplane’s lower wing covers are the largest single civil aviation parts made from carbon fibre, measuring 32 metres long and 6 metres wide. When Hexcel was awarded the contract in 2008 to supply carbon fibre prepreg for all the A350 aircraft composite primary structures, it was the largest contract in the company’s history, expected to generate revenues of $4-5 billion. By February this year Airbus had sold 617 A350 XWBs. Hexcel secured the A350 contract by developing a complete composite proposal including carbon fibre prepreg and associated products. The company’s experience in Intermediate Modulus carbon fibres was used to design HexTow IMA to Airbus requirements and HexPly M21E prepreg resin matrix was developed by Hexcel chemists to ensure that the very high performance properties in the fibre are fully optimized in the cured prepreg laminates. The A350 XWB composite structures built by Airbus and the Tier 1 suppliers using HexPly M21E/IMA include entire fuselage panels, keel beam, the entire wing (covers, spars and centre wing-box) and empennage (tail assembly).
To the same end, GE Aviation delivered wing fixed trailing edge components:
GE Aviation has delivered its initial production wing fixed trailing edge components for the Airbus A350 XWB MSN001.“This delivery start up results from major achievements at GE Aviation in design and manufacturing—bringing together new tool sets, materials and technologies, while also involving concurrent engineering with global suppliers to obtain material and long-lead items in unprecedented timescales,” said Steve Walters, GE Aviation aerostructures and nacelles executive product leader. GE Aviation will provide the wing fixed trailing edge for all three A350 WXB aircraft; the -800, -900 and -1000, producing the components at its Hamble-le-Rice factory in Southampton, Hampshire. It plans enhancements to the facility with the addition of a composites facility dedicated to the Airbus program. Though the facility is still in its early stages, GE Aviation anticipates it will be completed toward the end of 2014.