A new A350 XWB production milestone: making way for METRO

Airbus’ first A350 XWB moved another step closer to its maiden takeoff with installation of this widebody jetliner’s 50-metre-long electrical harness for flight test measurements, which – together with 35 electrical cabinets – forms an advanced “supercomputer” known as METRO.

25 October 2012 Feature story

Outfitted with 40,000 electrical links, the METRO system allows a range of parameters to be measured and recorded during the aircraft’s flight test campaign, with data collected to be used for the A350 XWB’s certification process. METRO will be powered up as soon as the no. 1 airframe’s join-up is completed, and will allow 4,500-5,000 measurements to be made. 

The system’s electrical harness, which weighs 900 kg., was installed earlier this month by more than 40 employees from Airbus and the Safran group’s Labinal. Its placement was completed over a weekend to ensure the A350 XWB industrial timetable was not impacted. 

For the first time, the harness – with its 67 km. of cables – was installed in high-level raceways.  This approach differs from previous programmes where harnesses were run along the floor, and it will eliminate the risk of electrical equipment damage during final assembly line activities. 

The METRO system’s circuit also is more flexible. Electrical cut-offs, which are possible at each of the 35 cabinets, allow them to be disconnected and moved in an easier and faster process. The cabinets – which weigh a combined nine tonnes – will be used by flight test engineers to display parameters being tested and recorded during the flight campaign. 

Airbus’ no. 1 A350 XWB will be joined by four additional development aircraft in the flight test campaign, each equipped with different instrumentation to gather the range of information required for certification.  

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