Airbus is testing an A350 XWB design-standard fuselage panel made from carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) as the company continues its track record of innovation in aircraft production.
Launched on 6 September using an A340 flight-test aircraft, these on-going trials are part of a three-week campaign to evaluate pressurised CFRP acoustic properties and help fine-tune sound insulation for the A350 XWB’s cabin.
"The A340 flights allow us to freeze the A350 XWB design with confidence that acoustic treatments will meet customer expectations while minimising aircraft weight,” explained project head Pierre Jacquet-Francillon. “In keeping with the A350 XWB strategy of reducing risk, we want to avoid jeopardising the flight test programme at a later, more critical stage by having to modify acoustic insulation.”
During testing, the 15-square-metre structure is fitted in place of an existing A340 aluminium fuselage section.
The first two flights are being conducted with an unfitted and non-insulated cabin. The remaining four flights will take place with a partial cabin and sidewall constructed around the composite panel, allowing a comparison of noise attenuation.
Manufactured by Airbus at its Nantes, France facility, the CFRP panel is fitted with microphone sensors which will be tested with various types of acoustic insulation materials.
The acoustic demonstrator project also provides a testbed for CFRP installation training, giving valuable experience of this type of in-service major repair.
With more than 500 firm orders from customers around the world, Airbus’ A350 XWB is shaping the future of air travel – providing airlines with a family of new-generation aircraft that is best suited to the market’s requirements in terms of size, range, revenue generation, passenger comfort and the environment.
Airbus’ A350 XWB brings together the very latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies – which allow for improved fuel efficiency, reduced emissions and lower noise levels during departure, cruise and arrival.