30 June 2014

Supply Chain is still the "very hot topic" for A350 Head of Program D.Evrard.

During the Innovation Days held on 12/June at Toulouse, Didier Evrard Head of A350 Program highlighted the high-pressure on the Supply Chain that Airbus is doing through the "supply chain improvement plan in place".

Source: Premium Aerotec

Most of the issues in terms of A350 production have been linked to suppliers not being ready and  Evrard expects suppliers will be significantly challenged, at least through next year. 

There are 213 suppliers in total over all commodities, including not only tier 1 but tier 2 and other suppliers.

Currently, 90% of the A350 suppliers are under standard surveillance by Airbus and have had some improvement initiatives put in place. 

Joint improvement plans are underway for 7.5% of suppliers, and 2.5% who are deemed as a very high risk to production efforts are undergoing a heavy-duty development and transformation regime. 

For these "very-critical suppliers", resident teams are performing a "very very rigorous process to allow transforming themselves" in terms of maturity.

Based on the article "New World" published in Aviation Week, and based on the presentation of Didier Evrard during the Innovation Days available here.

29 June 2014

A350 Industrial Progress

During the Innovation Days held in Toulouse on 12/June, Airbus A350 Head of Program Didier Evrard presented the status of different workpackages and sections of the A350-900 on the pre-FALs in Europe to remark that the target is to be at rate3 by the end of 2014 and that the ramp-up has already started.

Source: FlighGlobal

Considering that in the FAL at Toulouse, the final assembly of the MSN10 has started, this is a summary of the workpackages being assembled in each site:

Nantes                starting MSN39                 centre wing box and keel beam
St. Nazaire          starting MSN18                 centre fuselage and front fuselage
Broughton           starting MSN17                 wing box
Bremen               starting MSN11                 wing equipping
Hamburg             starting MSN18                 forward&aft fus, rear pressure bulkhd install
Stade                   starting MSN29                 aft fus upper shell, wing upper cover and VTP
Illescas                starting MSN38                 section 19, wing lower cover
Puerto Real         starting MSN24                 Horizontal Tail Plane box
Getafe                  starting MSN28                 section 19 assembly and Horizontal Tail plane

Based on the presentation of Didier Evrard during the Innovation Days available here.

28 June 2014

A350 Freighter variant and ultra-long-range variant

Currently that the discussion regarding the future of the A350-800 is on the table, here it is an old presentation from Airbus where the A350 family is positioned. 

Dated on 2007, a freighter variant and an Ultra-long-range variant were mentioned as future developments of the A350 family. Since then, these 2 variants have not been mentioned again.

27 June 2014

Where is the A350 MSN4? It is on-ground for the last 30 days and it should be in Farnborough next month.

The MSN4 prototype, painted with Qatar Airways colors, has not flown since last month, on 27/May. It is planned to be the test-flight prototype that will be used to certify the avionics, but it is quite strange that it has been on-ground for one month, when the A350 prototypes have the “highest flying rate over achieved in Airbus flight test: average 80 Flight Hours per month and per aircraft”.

The MSN4 prototype F-WZNW has flown around 200 hours in 3 months, since it´s  first flight last 26/February.

This flight prototype will be next month in the Farnborough Air-Show.

26 June 2014

A350 Terminal Servicing & Handling tests

During the A350 certification test campaign, the MSN4 flight test prototype has been used to check and confirm typical ramp layouts. Airbus has tested in late-April at Toulouse airport  typical turn round scenarios  showing the various GSE items in position.

These ramp layouts show typical arrangements only. Each operator will have its own specific requirements/regulations for the positioning and operation on the ramp.

The Stand Safety Line -in red- delimits the Aircraft Safety Area (minimum distance of 7.50 m. from the aircraft). No vehicle must be parked in this area before complete stop of the aircraft (wheel chocks in position on landing gears)

Full Servicing Turn Around Time TRT of the A350 is 61minutes as it is shown above.

Based on the Airbus' document "Aircraft Characteristics for Airport and Maintenance Planning"

25 June 2014

A350 MSN5's First Flight video.

Airbus has released this video of the MSN5's First Flight where the FF preparation is shown. 

The MSN5 is the fifth flight-test prototype for the Type Certification Campaign.

Cabin fitted, it was airborne on 20/June.

All pictures are videocaptures ©Airbus

24 June 2014

A350 XWB family-strategy and the A330neo. Will the A350-900 orders decrease if the A330neo is launched?

Vero Venia analizes in his blog what he called the “A350XWB strategy” now that the rumours about a possible A330neo launch become stronger everyday.

Several years ago Airbus was promoting its A350XWB as the unique family that fulfils all kind of airlines’ requirements for the twin aisle market segment. Basically, they say that Boeing needs the 787 and the 777 to cover the same market.
The A350XWB strategy was set in 2006 and has been in execution since that date.

 In simple words, if launched, the A330neo is clearly an admission of the failure of the famous “A350XWB strategy”. Finally, Airbus will admit that you can’t cover the twin aisle market with only one aircraft family.
“It does not mean that the A350 cannot sell well, but the overall strategy has just been proved to be a failure.”

Vero Venia said: “Deep inside myself, I am still wondering how Airbus will address the 777 problem. The A350-1000 will not become a credible contender against the 777-9, not in its current form. Unfortunately, the A350-1000 itself is already a stretch too long for the A350-900, so stretching it further is only stretching a bad idea.”
If ever Airbus launches another aircraft to address the 400 seater market, then It means that the A350XWB strategy would become a double failure.
The big question is whether the total A350-900 order tally will remain at around 600 units or will it decrease slowly, especially if the A330neo is launched.

He finishes the article with this conclusion: “I guess I have to be very patient before I get a clear answer because only time will tell.”

All pictures ©Airbus

Based on the article “Two Families” published by VeroVenia

23 June 2014

A380 and A350. Combination or competition?

In this slide presented by Airbus before the Emirates' cancellation of the A350 order, Airbus identifies as a strong advantage the combination of A380 and A350 for airlines.

But Emirates has cancelled the A350 because of the competition with A380. 

By the way, which airline is the "undisclosed customer" with A380&A350 ordered? Perhaps someone who is purchasing refurbished prototypes to be used as VIP aircraft? Could be.

Slides from the Airbus' presentation to JP Morgan available here.

22 June 2014

French and German Economy-Ministers visit the A350 FAL in Toulouse.

The French Minister of Economy received last week his German counterpart in Toulouse and they jointly visited the A350 Final Assembly Line.

Arnaud Montebourg was accompanied by Sigmar Gabriel to "celebrate that Airbus symbolizes the strength of the industrial union of our two countries.

Sigmar Gabriel said: "all those who have doubts on Europe and the Franco-German relationship should come to Toulouse-Airbus!”

With the presence of Tom Enders, president of Airbus Group and Fabrice Brégier, CEO of Airbus, the Economy-Ministers said: "The two Governments request the United States so that they engage in fair and just competition and not in a competition that uses billions of dollars of subsidies".

They did not want to comment on the news of a birth of an “Airbus of the energy” with the join between  French Alstom and German Siemens.

Based on the article “A Toulouse, Montebourg défend le modèle Airbus” published in La Depeche.

21 June 2014

A350 heat-soak; when you restart all cooling-systems after been parked in the sun at 48C for several hours.

Airbus has completed hot-weather testing of its A350-900 following several days of flights at Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates.

The Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-powered airframe, MSN3, had headed out to Al Ain late on 11/June, and subsequently carried out a number of test flights over the Persian Gulf.
Airbus said the operation focused on engine behaviour and performance in high-temperature conditions, and checks on systems such as the cooling equipment. The tests included heat-soak, in which the A350 was parked in the sun for several hours.

Meteorological data for Al Ain shows temperatures reached 48C while MSN3 was positioned at the airport.

All pictures ©Airbus

Based on the article "A350 wraps up hot-weather test in UAE" published in Flight Global.

20 June 2014

MSN5 flight prototype airbornes with a 8 hours First Flight

Airbus’s 5th and final A350 test aircraft has departed Toulouse on its maiden flight, taking the programme into the last stage of certification.

The MSN5 aircraft has taken off at around 09:40h and has spent more than 8 hours in this First Flight before returning back to Toulouse.

Like MSN2 the aircraft is fitted with a full passenger cabin. Airbus says MSN5 "embodies the operationally definitive configuration for type certification duties".

Airbus had originally expected MSN5 to fly earlier this year but the interior has been undergoing adjustments in preparation for the route work.

Airbus is to use the aircraft for cabin operability tests and route proving, as well as extended operations trials which will last around 300h in a flight program that is being defined -it would include Canada, Australia, USA and China- finalising the certification of the twin-engined type.

Based on the article “Last A350 test aircraft departs on maiden flight” published in Flight International

19 June 2014

B787 against A350. Orders & Cancellations. Boeing 2 - Airbus 0.

In terms of numbers, the historic Emirates cancellation of 11/June reshuffles the cards in the commercial battle between Airbus and Boeing.

Video capture. Source Airbus

If we compare the firm orders for the A350 with those of its direct competitor, the Boeing 787, the Boeing is well ahead with 1.031 purchase commitments against 742 for the Airbus.

Video capture. Source Airbus

And in of cancellation terms, Boeing has suffered 223 total since 2006 for its Dreamliner, and Airbus 252 since 2007 for the A350.

Based on the article "Emirates cancels its Airbus A350 order: explanations." published in  Aeronewstv

18 June 2014

Emirates simply prefers the larger A380 to the A350. “This is not about demand”

Emirates has not said much about why it cancelled its order for 70 Airbus A350s, but a senior executive from the Dubai-based airline speaking to analysts and reporters last week in New York shortly after the cancellation was announced offered some insight.

Emirates EVP-service departments Nigel Hopkins emphasized that the airline had not changed its view about future passenger demand in the Middle East. The A350 cancellation “has nothing to do” with Emirates downgrading its demand forecast, he said. “This is not about demand,” he made a point of saying. “We’re absolutely optimistic about the future.”

Video capture. Source Airbus

But Hopkins did say Emirates increasingly sees the “flexible” A380 facilitating future growth because the aircraft’s large capacity allows it to operate to slot-constrained major airports –as Heathrow- and generate around the same revenue with 1 flight as 2 flights using a smaller A350.

“Emirates has just 5 slots at Heathrow, but we’ve grown revenue using the A380 on London flights and we couldn’t do that with other aircraft” Hopkins explained.

Unlike the rest of the airline industry, Emirates simply prefers the larger A380 to the A350.

Based on the article “Why did Emirates cancel A350s?” published in ATW

17 June 2014

First Flight of the A350 MSN5 flight-test aircraft scheduled for next Thursday 19/June

MSN5 prototype is finishing last ground tests before airborne next Thursday 19/June.

This cabin equipped aircraft will be used for Route Proving, ETOPS certification and pilot training. Or as it is known, "functional and reliability testing". It will fly all around the world for more than 200 hours in 3 weeks.

16 June 2014

GKN Aerospace: from “Most Improved” to “Best Performing” Supplier

GKN Aerospace in Filton (Bristol, UK) has been recognized as Airbus's Best Performing Supplier. This follows receipt of the 2013 Most Improved Supplier award by the site, the result of significant industrial performance enhancements achieved working with Airbus during 2012.

Sales to Airbus represent approximately 20% of GKN Aerospace’s total annual turnover of £2.2 billion and the company supports almost all Airbus aircraft programs with products ranging from complex composite and metallic airframe and engine structures to advanced cockpit and cabin transparencies.
“To receive both ‘most improved supplier’ and then ‘best performing supplier’ from Airbus in just 24 months is an excellent achievement for us,” says John Pritchard, vice president and managing director - metallics, GKN Aerospace. “Our entire workforce - at Filton and globally - is committed to delivering excellence to our customers. We have embedded robust practices and created a customer-focused culture that have delivered significant, measurable performance benefits. It is extremely satisfying for us all - and our Filton team in particular - to see the site recognised with such an important customer award.”

GKN bought the wing components manufacturing facility at Airbus's Filton site in January 2009 and has built a separate, dedicated factory for its A350 work 8km from the Filton plant.

GKN Aerospace in Filton produces the rear wing spar and the fixed trailing edge for A350 XWB family of aircraft. The site employs more than 1.700 of the GKN Aerospace’s worldwide total of 12.000 staff.

Each wing's 27m long rear spar is manufactured in 3 sections and forms the structural heart of the wing fixed trailing edge (FTE). The spar attaches vital parts including the main landing gear, to the wing. Its complex integral contours are achievable only as a result of manufacturing innovations introduced by GKN Aerospace and these contours provide the specific strength and flexibility required with minimal weight.

Once the spar is manufactured, GKN Aerospace is responsible for assembling the complete wing FTE and delivering this assembly to Airbus in Broughton ready for integration onto the wing.

Based on the article “GKN Aerospace — Filton wins Airbus performance award” published in Composites World.

15 June 2014

The A350's hot weather trials in the Middle East

Airbus’ A350 XWB MSN3 development aircraft with a team of around 40 Airbus specialists is doing hot weather trials at Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. With an average temperature of 35ºC, temperatures reached 48°C.

The scope of the trials includes verifying system behavior, low-speed taxi, engine starts and rejected take-offs.

This latest phase of the development test program comes after MSN3 completed high altitude tests in Bolivia and cold weather tests in Canada. And last month, the MSN2 prototype was at Florida in some indoor extreme weather tests.

The A350 arrived at Al Ain Airport in the United Arab Emirates on 12/June for a less-than-a-week-long mission to test systems and evaluate performance in hot climate conditions.

14 June 2014

One year since the first flight of the A350 XWB. Video

Airbus has released a video showing the main milestones on the Type-Certification Campaign that should be completed by October in order to deliver the first series aircraft (MSN6) to Qatar, the Launch Customer.

One year later, the first 4 flight-test prototype are flying and the 5th one will airborne next week. Many tests have been done and some of them can be shown in the video.