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Bringing it all together

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Bringing it all together

The A321XLR will deliver range of up to 4,700nm

Airbus sites prepare to gear up for the A321XLR’s major component assembly phase. Aerospace Manufacturing reports.

Launched by Airbus, the A321XLR will deliver an unprecedented extra-long range of up to 4,700nm – 15% more than the A321LR version and with the same fuel efficiency

Industrialisation and parts production for the first A321XLR is underway across Airbus sites and its wider supply chain, paving the way for the major component assembly of the first forward fuselage, centre and rear fuselage sections and the wings, to begin in 2021. By the start of this year, a large proportion of the engineering design drawings had been released.

Subassembly of the A321XLR centre wing box began at Airbus’ Nantes site in November 2020

“The production of components for the first A321XLR flight-test aircraft is progressing through the sites all across the world, for large and small components as well as systems,” begins Gary O’Donnell, head of the A321XLR programme. “In parallel, many parts are already being tested and demonstrated – on both the aircraft structure and on the systems side – to validate the functionality of all those first aircraft components.

“The production system in particular is now coming alive, with our teams receiving the design drawings from Airbus and the key risk-sharing design partners and bringing them into physical reality. This progress already is enabling Airbus’ factories across Europe and the UK to prepare their ‘pilot’ operations for the major component assembly phase to begin later this year, and in turn, for the subsequent induction of the first completed major component assembly’s into the final assembly line at Hamburg in the second part of the year.”

New rear centre tank

While all major sections of the A321XLR contain significant design changes versus the current A321neo/A321LR baseline aircraft, the major component assembly with extensive design and manufacturing differences is the centre and aft fuselage. This is especially due to the centre and aft fuselage’s totally new integral rear centre fuel tank and associated fuel management systems – which is key to the aircraft’s extra-long range performance capability, while retaining operational commonality with the baseline A321neo.

Overall, the centre and aft fuselage’s production cycle is progressing. At Nantes, Airbus started the subassembly of the centre wing box in mid-November 2020. Once built, this major component will be delivered this year to Hamburg, where it will be integrated into the aft fuselage major component assembly section. Meanwhile, Premium Aerotec Group in Augsburg Germany is completing the final parts for the rear centre tank and is readying the tooling and shopfloor for the rear centre tank’s assembly. At Premium Aerotec Group’s other sites in Nordenham and Varel, various large centre and aft fuselage components are in production.

Prepare for smooth ramp-up

Airbus’ own factory in Hamburg, which will host the major component assembly operations for the rear fuselage equipped with the new rear centre tank, is preparing the necessary jigs and tooling in a new dedicated pilot production line in ‘Hangar 260.’ This operation is deliberately decoupled from the rest of the A320 line, so that starting from next year this pilot line will enable a gradual ramp-up of the A321XLR’s new rear fuselage – to attain maturity without impacting Hamburg’s existing single-aisle production operations.

“The principle of this pilot line in Hamburg means that we can have a ‘stable factory,’” explained O’Donnell. “This will allow us to start ramping-up production of the A321XLR’s aft fuselage major component assembly using longer cycle times to begin with, and with increased level of engineering and support – in particular to ensure the smooth integration of the new rear centre tank and its new fuel systems. Importantly, this new approach will also avoid us putting at risk the rest of single-aisle production. And then, once we’re happy that everything is mature and ‘up-to-speed,’ we can transfer it with confidence into the main production system.”

Regarding the aircraft’s nose and forward fuselage section, parts production is underway at Stelia Aerospace. When these parts are completed, they will be transported to Saint-Nazaire for the nose and forward fuselage major component assembly stage.

Another key major component assembly structure is the aircraft wing set, for which the UK Broughton team’s particular focus is the A321XLR’s new flap configuration. To this end, the associated tooling trials are in progress for the new ‘movables,’ being performed in conjunction with partners Spirit AeroSystems in Malaysia (inboard flap) and FACC in Austria (outboard flap). The wing’s more conventional fixed components, such as spars and stringers, are taking shape in Broughton and in the associated supply chain. Likewise, production is underway for the landing gear components (Safran, Collins and Triumph); fuel and inerting systems (Collins and Parker Aerospace); and the engine pylons (at Airbus’ dedicated production plant in St. Eloi, Toulouse). ‘Cabin and cargo’ systems are currently in the testing phase to validate the A321XLR’s extra-long range passenger comfort elements.

Through exceptional international collaboration, the A321XLR is now on its way towards entry into service.

www.airbus.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/airbus-a321xlr-assembly-18032021/

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Virgin Galactic unveils new spaceship for its growing fleet

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Virgin Galactic has unveiled the company’s first SpaceShip III in its growing fleet, VSS Imagine.

The spaceship showcases Virgin Galactic’s innovation in design and astronaut experience. Imagine also demonstrates progress toward efficient design and production, as Virgin Galactic works to scale the business for the long-term.

VSS Imagine will commence ground testing, with glide flights planned for this summer from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The livery design, finished entirely with a mirror-like material, reflects the surrounding environment, constantly changing colour and appearance as it travels from earth to sky to space.

Leveraging a modular design, the SpaceShip III class of vehicles are built to enable improved performance in terms of maintenance access and flight rate. This third generation of spaceship will lay the foundation for the design and manufacture of future vehicles.

As VSS Imagine begins ground testing, manufacturing will progress on VSS Inspire, the second SpaceShip III vehicle within the Virgin Galactic fleet. The introduction of the SpaceShip III class of vehicles is an important milestone in Virgin Galactic’s multi-year effort that targets flying 400 flights per year, per spaceport.

VSS Imagine is unveiled ahead of VSS Unity’s next test flight, which is planned for May 2021.

Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, commented: “Today we unveiled our SpaceShip III class of vehicles, marking the beginning of the Virgin Galactic fleet. VSS Imagine and Inspire are stunning ships that will take our future astronauts on an incredible voyage to space, and their names reflect the aspirational nature of human spaceflight. Congratulations to our dedicated team who worked so brilliantly to achieve this milestone.”

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, added: “Virgin Galactic spaceships are built specifically to deliver a new, transforming perspective to the thousands of people who will soon be able to experience the wonder of space for themselves. As a SpaceShip III class of vehicle, Imagine is not just beautiful to look at, but represents Virgin Galactic’s growing fleet of spaceships. All great achievements, creations and changes start with an idea. Our hope is for all those who travel to space to return with fresh perspectives and new ideas that will bring positive change to our planet.”

www.virgingalactic.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/virgin-galactic-unveils-new-spaceship-for-its-growing-fleet/

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Hexcel joins ASCEND project

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Hexcel joins ASCEND project

Hexcel has announced its role within the recently launched UK-based project called ASCEND (Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development) that will focus on developing high-rate manufacturing and processing technologies that will accelerate the development of new, lightweight advanced composite materials.

The composites company will join lead partner GKN Aerospace and 13 other project stakeholders in a collaboration across the UK supply chain to develop the technologies and automation equipment required to manufacture lightweight, more fuel-efficient structures for sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive industries.

Hexcel will contribute to the ASCEND project framework, developing a new HexPly fast cure prepreg system that will significantly reduce component processing times compared to existing aerospace prepregs.

In addition to its new fast curing prepreg technology, Hexcel’s range of Liquid Composite Moulding (LCM) products will be incorporated into the ASCEND project work packages. The project will use both HiTape advanced unidirectional dry carbon reinforcements and HiMax multiaxial non-crimp fabrics reinforcements.

The ASCEND project will allow Hexcel to collaborate with Tier 1 companies, engineers, tooling specialists, and production equipment OEMs to deliver both prepreg and liquid composite moulding solutions that meet both the performance targets and satisfy the processing requirements for high-rate automated manufacture.

The technical integration enabled by the ASCEND project partnerships will ensure a complete understanding of customer performance and processing needs, coupled with the opportunity to industrialize new technologies utilizing the extensive capabilities of GKN’s Global Technology Centre in Bristol.

Paul Mackenzie, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Hexcel, said “We are  proud to be part of the ASCEND program, and we look forward to working with other leading companies as we develop processes and materials that help to make the next generation of sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive vehicles possible. This project offers the perfect platform for Hexcel to collaborate and further develop our HexPly, HiMax, and HiTape technologies.”

The ASCEND partners working alongside Hexcel include Assyst Bulmer, Airborne, Cobham Mission Systems Wimborne, Cygnet Texkimp, DES Composites, FAR-UK, Hive Composites, LMAT, Loop Technology, McLaren Automotive, The National Composites Centre, Solvay Composite Technologies, Rafinex, and Sigmatex (UK).

Together, the group looks forward to delivering the material and automation innovations that will power more sustainable mobility solutions of the future.

www.hexcel.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/hexcel-joins-ascend-project/

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes extends landing gear kits contract with Magellan

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes division has extended its component supply contract with Canada-based supplier Magellan Aerospace.

Under this long-term contract, Magellan will continue to supply landing gear kits and structural components for Boeing platforms such as the 737, 767, and 777.

The contract extension also shows that Magellan meets Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ cost, quality and performance requirements.

Magellan business development, marketing and contract vice-president Haydn Martin said: “Securing this major business extension for key Boeing platforms is foundational for our New York and Kitchener facilities as the aerospace industry works to recover from the impact of the global pandemic.

“The confidence that Boeing has placed in Magellan is significant and demonstrates our ability to offer our customers comprehensive and reliable solutions.”

For Boeing, the company is using a vertical integration strategy that leverages global resources in Ontario, New York City, and India.

It has also made significant investments across all its facilities regarding manufacturing technology and the workforce to enhance its competitiveness worldwide.

Magellan will deliver these kits and hardware from its facilities in Kitchener, Ontario and New York City, New York. The company will also produce an extra supply of kits to reduce production risk.

Deliveries will be made directly to Boeing’s assembly facilities in Renton and Everett, Washington, US.

Last month, Magellan signed a five-year renewal agreement with Avio Aero to supply magnesium and aluminium castings.

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Source: https://www.aerospace-technology.com/news/boeing-commercial-aircraft-magellan/

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ZeroAvia raises new funding for hydrogen-electric engine development

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Zero-emission aviation firm ZeroAvia has raised $24.3m in new funding to support the development of a 2MW hydrogen-electric engine.

Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Horizons Ventures, an existing investor, led the latest funding round and was joined by new investor British Airways.

Other investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, Shell Ventures, and SYSTEMIQ, also joined the financing.

The financing takes the company’s total private investment to more than $53m while the total funding raised is close to $74m since its formation.

ZeroAvia’s funding comes a few months after the UK Government, through the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), and Innovate UK, announced a $16.3m (£12.3m) grant to deliver a 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft in the market by 2023.

The new funding will accelerate the hydrogen-electric powertrain development for a ten to 20-seater regional aircraft.

ZeroAvia aims to commercialise the engine as early as 2024. The company aims to enter the more than 50-seater commercial aircraft segment by 2026.

The funding will also de-risk the company ambition to power a 100-seat single-aisle aircraft by 2030.

ZeroAvia CEO and founder Val Miftakhov said: “This new funding, in conjunction with our other recent milestones, will significantly accelerate our path to zero-emission solutions for larger regional aircraft at a commercial scale.

“With many airlines lining up and ready to make the shift to zero-emissions, we expect to see wide-scale adoption of this technology.”

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Source: https://www.aerospace-technology.com/news/zeroavia-electric-raising-funds/

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