Airbus rolls out its second A350 XWB composite fuselage demonstrator
The A350 XWB programme reached another key milestone with the completion of a second large test fuselage section, which incorporates many of the manufacturing advances planned for the production of this next-generation Airbus jetliner.
With a length of 18 metres and a diameter of more than six metres, the demonstrator closely reflects the A350 XWB fuselage's final design. This section was used to develop and validate the complete process chain - from the manufacture of individual panels, frames and clips, to shell assembly, section assembly and the production of circumferential joints.
The fuselage section supports Airbus' validation of design principles and sizing methods for the A350 XWB, and it will be utilised as part of the aircraft's certification process - serving for tests that focus primarily on the fatigue and damage tolerance of composite structures.
Manufacturing innovations applied to the demonstrator included the production of large carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) panels - the largest with a chord length of 5.5 metres. The A350 XWB's extensive use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic is a significant advance: its panels, frames, window frames, clips, and door are made from it, with a hybrid door frame structure consisting of CFRP and titanium being used for the first time.
The fuselage demonstrator was developed with the involvement of 11 Airbus plants in Germany, France and Spain. While this unit was built in three sections, the actual A350 XWB will feature continuous fuselage composite panels of 16-18 metres in length.
Airbus is building the A350 XWB in response to widespread market demand for a family of highly efficient, medium-capacity long-range widebody aircraft. The A350 XWB has the widest fuselage in its category, and is available in three different versions. Firm orders for the A350 XWB currently stand at 493 from 31 customers worldwide.