Airbus has incorporated innovative digital tracking and monitoring RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology to help streamline and increase the efficiency of its industrial operations. By using RFID tags – attached to objects such as aircraft components and tools, and which are read automatically from distances of up to approximately 100 metres – Airbus can track and visualise its production processes in real-time. These capabilities have been deployed on the A330 and A350 final assembly lines in Toulouse, France, as well as for A400M wing assembly operations in the UK.
News in brief
Airbus moves forward with its “factory of the future” concept
On track for certification: The A350 XWB flight test campaign marks key milestones
Airbus’ flight test department is moving at full-speed with all five A350-900 developmental aircraft now flying – a fleet that has accumulated more than 2,100 total hours in over 500 flights. Among the key recent achievements of the programme are crosswind tests with MSN001 in Keflavik, Iceland; MSN003’s hot-weather test campaign in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates; the first flight of MSN005 and two Early Long Flights (ELFs) performed by MSN002. Remaining certification tests include route-proving and “maximum energy” rejected takeoff evaluations, which will help pave the way for the A350 XWB’s planned certification in the third quarter of 2014 and the subsequent delivery of the first customer aircraft to Qatar Airways before year-end.
The first A350 XWB full-flight simulator is readied for airline flight crews
Airbus’ initial A350 XWB full-flight simulator – located at the company’s Flight Training Centre in Toulouse – is nearing the start-up of training operations with airline flight crews. Installed several months ago, this training device has been fine-tuned using data from the A350 XWB’s flight tests and is getting ready for its qualification process with aviation authorities this summer. Based on a CAE Series 7000 simulator and equipped with the latest visual system, the A350 XWB full-flight simulator is the Training Centre’s first such device to be fitted with a full electrical motion system – which delivers the same or improved performance compared to a hydraulic system while providing energy savings and environmental benefits.
Two giant pandas are transferred aboard a MASkargo-operated A330-200F
Airbus’ versatile A330-200F freighter delivered some important freight for MASkargo this spring, flying two live giant pandas – named “Fu Wa” and “Feng Yi” – from China to Kuala Lumpur, en route to their new home at Malaysia’s Zoo Negara. Further highlighting the flexibility of the world’s most modern mid-sized freighter, this A330-200F – which featured MASkargo’s special panda-themed livery – maintained a climate-controlled environment, with two veterinarians also on-board to ensure the animals’ well-being.
One year since first flight: a successful anniversary for the A350 XWB
With its historic takeoff from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport on June 14, 2013, the A350 XWB opened a new era in commercial aviation. One year later, Airbus’ four development A350 XWBs have logged nearly 2,000 hours aloft, placing the jetliner programme well on track for certification – and service entry – before year-end. The flight test pace has reached the highest flying rate ever achieved by Airbus – with each of the four aircraft accumulating an average of 80 flight hours per month. A fifth A350 XWB currently is being readied for flight. Watch the related interview of Patrick DuChé, Head of Development Flight Test
Airbus’ next-generation A350 XWB jetliner “tours” Mobile, Alabama during its first-ever U.S. visit
Airbus’ A350 XWB MSN2 developmental aircraft made a high-profile appearance today in the skies over the U.S. state of Alabama, where the company’s newest A320 Family final assembly line is being constructed and the Airbus Mobile Engineering Center is located – both situated at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley near the city of Mobile. The jetliner’s special Alabama appearance followed more than two weeks of extreme weather testing at Eglin Air Force Base’s McKinley Climatic Lab in Florida and included a flyover of the Airbus LPGA Classic women’s professional golf tournament in Mobile.
Opening new “windows”: Airbus offers upgraded electronic flight bag for Windows 8
Airbus is enhancing the capabilities of its “FlySmart with Airbus” electronic flight bag for Windows, with this year’s release of a new version that is fully compatible with the Windows 8 Pro operating system. Complementing the growing success of the company’s iPad application, this Windows version incorporates new functionalities for the electronic flight bag’s performance applications. In addition, Airbus also will soon introduce an updated tablet-optimized interface for Windows 8, which will become available in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Over 13,000 pilots are “flying smart” with Airbus’ electronic flight bag iPad application
An increasing number of airlines have selected the “FlySmart with Airbus” electronic flight back (EFB) solution for iPad devices. To date, more than 13,000 pilots from 73 customers are taking advantage of this innovative tablet application – a total which represents approximately 14 percent of the worldwide Airbus pilot community.
A “flying” experience: U.S. middle school students recognized for completing an Airbus-sponsored mentorship programme
Local middle school students from Wichita, Kansas “took to the skies” this month as part of an Airbus Corporate Foundation-sponsored initiative. As a reward for completing the “Flying Challenge” mentorship programme, 66 students were recognized with a flight over their hometown in a general aviation aircraft. Coordinated by the United Way of the Plains, the school-year-long programme seeks to inspire at-risk students to challenge themselves by matching them with locally-based Airbus engineers and Wichita State University engineering students.
Concorde MSN1 arrives at its new home
One of the first Concorde jetliners built at Toulouse, France has made its final “voyage” with the aircraft’s ground transfer to the Airbus-supported Aeroscopia museum site at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport. Designated MSN1, this Concorde made its last flight in April 1985, returning to Toulouse after a career that included a full range of test and development activity. The Aeroscopia museum where Concorde MSN1 will be permanently displayed has received funding from Airbus, and its collection also will include one of the initial A300s – the cornerstone widebody jetliner in Airbus’ product line – as well as the no. 1 flight test A400M military airlifter.