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Farnborough special edition - 8th July 2014

A350 XWB milestones achieved as programme exceeds 500 test flights

Airbus’ flight test department is at full speed and on track for Type Certification in the third quarter 2014. Indicative of this, the A350 XWB test fleet recently exceeded 500 test flights in over 2,100 flight hours. Furthermore, the month of June has been a particularly active one for the A350 Programme: It kicked-off with two “Early Long Flights” (ELFs) performed by MSN002 and in conjunction with Air France and Lufthansa, to test the A350 XWB cabin under real flight conditions. Then on the 18th, MSN003 completed hot weather testing in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Those tests validated the behaviour of the engines and aircraft systems at temperatures exceeding 40°C. Then two days later, MSN005’s first flight (lasting eight-hours) marked the completion five-strong line-up of development aircraft. Most recently, on 3rd July, MSN001 performed cross-wind tests in Keflavik, Iceland. At the time of writing, the major remaining Certification flight tests included route-proving and “maximum energy” rejected take-off. This certification test programme paves the way for the first A350-900 to enter service with Qatar Airways in Q4 this year.

Link to A350 testing photos 

A350 XWB full-flight simulator nears airline training operations in Toulouse

The world’s first A350 XWB full-flight simulator (FFS) is getting closer to readiness for training the first airline flight crews. Already installed for some months at Airbus’ Flight Training Centre in Toulouse and having been fine-tuned using real A350 flight-test data, the device is currently preparing for the Aviation Authorities’ qualification process over the summer, leading to the authorization to begin full training operations in the fourth quarter 2014. Based on a CAE Series 7000 simulator and equipped with the latest visual system, this FFS is also the Training Centre’s first FFS to be fitted with a full electrical motion system. This architecture provides the same or even better performance as a traditional hydraulic one and confers energy savings. It also brings environmental benefits and simplified housing infrastructure due to the absence of traditional hydraulic oil. Qualification of this first A350 FFS will complement the two advanced pilot training devices (“APT+”), also manufactured by CAE. Together, the APT+, as well as the FFS, will play an important part in the A350 Flight Crew training course.

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A350 XWB Maintenance Programme submitted for EASA approval

The A350 XWB Maintenance Review Board Report (MRBR) has been submitted for approval to the EASA, FAA and Transport Canada. This represents a major milestone in the development of the “Instructions for Continued Airworthiness” and is the result of more than four years of activities in which A350 customers and authorities have been actively involved. Definitive approval of the MRBR is expected during the summer, prior to the aircraft’s Type Certification and first customer delivery. The early involvement of Airbus’ maintenance and engineering teams into the design, and discussions with the authorities and customers has contributed to the development of an efficient A350 XWB Maintenance Programme. In particular it will feature fewer and simpler maintenance visits, and flexible packaging of tasks resulting in reduced scheduled maintenance workload compared with earlier generation aircraft.

A320 Family gets passenger capacity boost

The A320 Family will soon bring to operators the benefits of increased maximum seating capacities. The A320neo and A320ceo’s maximum capacity will increase to 189 seats (versus 180 seats today) in conjunction with a new option for wider escape slides; while the A321neo’s maximum certified capacity will increase to 240 seats (versus 220 seats today), with a new door configuration. This will utilize an additional pair of overwing exits to allow an uninterrupted seating layout from the overwing exits through to Door 1. Meanwhile, the A319neo and A319ceo will be able to accommodate up to 156 seats (versus 145 today) in a high-density, single-class cabin arrangement, with a single overwing exit, instead of two required today.

A320 Family even quieter on approach with new Air flow Deflectors

The A320 Family, which set the industry’s standard for environmental quietness when it originally entered service, has now become even quieter following the introduction by Airbus of small noise-reducing underwing “Air Flow Deflectors”. These devices which were implemented in production in May of 2014 are now also available as a retrofit modification. Positioned just ahead of underwing cavities associated with the fuel over-pressure protection system, these devices prevent the cavities from generating a characteristic ‘whistling’ sound which can sometimes be heard on the ground when the engines are at idle during final approach phase and between 12 to 50km. away from the runway touchdown point.

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Airbus’ new Beluga loading hangars to enhance transport network

Airbus is increasing capacity across its transport network with six new loading hangars dedicated to the company’s five Beluga aircraft – which are the world’s largest cargo carriers, developed to carry complete aircraft sections between different production sites around Europe and to the final assembly lines in Toulouse, France or Hamburg, Germany plus Seville for A400M. These new facilities – the first of which opened in Hamburg earlier this year – will help the Beluga freighters increase their total flight hour capacity to support Airbus’ latest production rate increases, as well as the start of A350 XWB series production, by minimising the impact of weather conditions on loading/unloading. By 2017, the fleet of five Belugas will double its combined flight hours from 5,000 in 2011 to reach a capacity of 10,000 hours annually, with each aircraft operating up to five flights a day, six days a week.

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SESAR chooses Airbus ProSky to lead RNP implementation across Europe

The SESAR Joint Undertaking has awarded Airbus Prosky (APS), the dedicated ATM subsidiary of Airbus, a contract to lead a consortium for Required Navigation Performance (RNP) Implementation and Synchronisation in Europe (RISE). The two-year project aims to improve precision of both the approach trajectory and airport access by removing “circle to land” procedures, thereby increasing safety and reducing fuel consumption. APS will be responsible for overall project leadership, validation of the procedures and aircraft performance using full-flight simulation, as well as coordination of 100-200 flight trials with partner airlines Air France, Novair and TAP Portugal. APS will support each consortium member in design, safety and environmental assessments activities. The trials will take place between key destinations of small and medium-sized airports in France (Nice, Ajaccio), Cyprus (Paphos and Larnaca), Portugal (Funchal and Horta), and Greece (Heraklion, Corfu, Santorini and Mykonos). The overall goal of RISE is to pave the way for the deployment of very accurate “performance-based” navigation procedures across Europe.

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Airbus’ “factory of the future” moves closer – with 3D realtime visualisation

Airbus has developed innovations which allow its factory operations to be digitally monitored and tracked using RFID technology and visualised in real time. These capabilities are helping streamline and increase the efficiency of its industrial operations. The innovations use active RFID tags which are attached to industrial objects such as aircraft components, tools and logistics medias. The tagged objects can be read automatically from a distance of 100m with an accuracy of 15cm in three dimensions. These latest capabilities have been deployed on the A330 and A350 final assembly lines in Toulouse and also in A400M wing assembly operations in the UK.

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3D printed metal part flies for the first time installed on an Airbus aircraft

A 3D-printed ‘bionic’ cabin bracket for the A350 XWB has flown for the first time installed on Airbus’ MSN005 flight-test aircraft. The bracket has been produced from Titanium powder using a three-dimensional “additive layer manufacturing” (ALM) technique. The part passed all the required tests and demonstrated a weight saving of 30% compared with a similar bracket manufactured with today’s standard methods. ALM removes many of the traditional manufacturing constraints and thus complex designs can be produced more quickly and at lower cost. In addition, this type of manufacture is beneficial to the environment as it reduces the amount of unused raw material waste by around 90 percent.

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Lightweight panels for “stealthy” buildings validated for airports worldwide

Airbus has unveiled a new, lightweight thin-panel version of the “stealthy” panel technology which enables buildings to be constructed nearer to runways, opening development opportunities on land at airports which has remained vacant due to potential interference with signals from instrument landing systems. Developed by Airbus and the Airbus Group Innovations corporate-level research network, and to be made available through the Airbus ProSky ATM subsidiary, these “stealthy” panels can be applied to a building’s exterior to significantly reduce interference with safety-critical signals from instrument landing systems (ILS), which guide aircraft during arrivals in reduced visibility conditions. Such “stealth” panels’ application could open up approximately 130sq km for the construction of new buildings and structures at and around many airport worldwide.

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Airbus’ newest Customer Support centre begins operations in Malaysia

Airbus Customer Services has commenced operations of its new subsidiary in Malaysia named “Airbus Customer Services Sdn Bhd”. The new entity will increase proximity to Airbus’ customers located in the South-East Asian region, supporting the region’s high fleet growth, contributing to regionalization objectives for entry-into-service support. Co-located with Sepang Aircraft Engineering near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the operation represents an expansion of Airbus’ global network of customer support centres providing 24/7 specialised major aircraft engineering and repair services. As the latest member of this network – joining Toulouse, Hamburg, Wichita and Beijing – the new facility will capitalise on the established quality approvals, ways of working, and provide access to the same tools and applications. The portfolio of services offered will encompass the complete range of Airbus products with a significant focus on the A380 and the new A350 XWB. The Malaysian centre will provide employment for over 100 skilled engineers and mechanics. 

Sichuan Airlines extends its Airbus’ Flight Hour Services contract

Sichuan Airlines, has extended its existing ‘Flight Hour Services (FHS) components support contract, to cover its entire fleet of A330 Family aircraft. The contract, which will run for 12 years, provides an extensive scope of A330 line replaceable units (LRUs), guaranteed spare parts availability through pool access service and on-site stock at Sichuan Airlines’ main base and selected outstations, as well as repair services, components reliability and APU services. Sichuan Airlines signed a contract with Airbus in 2009 for customized Flight Hour Services (FHS) for its fleet of three A330s, which were in service in early 2010 to become the first customer for Airbus FHS in China.

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One year of operation with Airbus Managed Inventory in Latin America

Airbus Managed Inventory (AMI) has achieved its first year of operation in Latin America with Aeroman. By utilizing the AMI service, Aeroman has streamlined its supply chain, reduced administrative cost and has created a better order flow for its customers. AMI has also enabled Aeroman to reduce critical ad-hoc orders and optimized its inventory planning. The AMI service ensures the automatic replenishment of high-usage and non-repairable parts at the customer´s facility, guaranteeing parts availability and decreasing inventory stock levels. Aeroman, based at El Salvador International Airport, provides maintenance services to A320 family operators from North and South America.

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