Mechanical machining of large elements is the oldest speciality at Nantes used in the manufacture of the A320, A380 and A400M centre wing boxes. Three families of aluminium and aluminium lithium parts are manufactured on five-axis high-speed NC machines according to their morphology and manufacturing process, requiring dedicated production lines before delivery to the assembly lines: forged parts, self-straightened, straight parts and formed flat parts.
Composite materials are used in the manufacture of radomes, A350 XWB, A380 and A400M centre wing box structural components, A350 XWB keel beams and air inlet acoustic panels. Three types of large composite parts according to their morphology and manufacturing process (monolithic prepreg draping, RTM or LRI injection) are produced: straight formed parts, flat and formed parts and RTM (resin transfer moulding) parts.
Some key products manufactured in Nantes:
Providing the junction between the wings and the fuselage, the centre wing box can bear, in-flight, loads of around 1,500 tonnes. This highly technical structure can also double up as a fuel tank, at the client’s request.
The air inlet (or engine nose cowl) is a major component of the aircraft. Located upstream from the engine, it attenuates noise and provides a regular flow of air to the engine.
Found at the foremost point of an aircraft, the nose cone, or radome, houses the radar and other sensitive instruments. Radomes are made from specific materials and require particular manufacturing skills. The structure is designed to safeguard against harsh conditions or damaging events such as temperature extremes, high-speed impacts with rain, snow and abrasive particles, sunlight and high voltage charges of static electricity.
The backbone of the aircraft, the keel beam provides structural continuity of the fuselage at the landing gear bay. For the first time in an Airbus programme, the keel beam and aft lower shell have merged to form a single key part.
Nantes is regularly quoted in newspapers as being one of the nicest cities in France.
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