When the Airbus A350 is progressing on the flight test campaign, much attention is focused on the Rolls-RoyceTrent XWB powerplants. But while the Trent XWB is the only engine available for the new big twin, R-R's arch rival GE is still onboard.
GE's aviation division is a significant aerostructures supplier and its UK facility at Hamble-le-Rice, Southampton, supplies Airbus with fixed trailing edge components for the A350 wing.
That package - for 3,000 components, including structural composite panels and complex machined assemblies - is the largest production contract awarded to Hamble in its 75-year history. The deal, under which GE is a risk-sharing partner, extends to all A350 variants, including the -800, -900 and -1000.
GE bought the Hamble facility in 2007 as part of a package of businesses it acquired from Smiths, transforming what was at that time a build-to-print supplier into a full-function design and manufacturing partner today.
Hamble is due to see a $50 million composites facility investment dedicated to A350 and running in time to meet aircraft production ramp-up requirements. Work has already started, and the facility should be ready near the end of 2014.
Based on the article “GE takes flight on A350 wing” published in Flight International.