Bombardier installs jigs for CSeries composite wing assembly

Bombardier's Belfast, Northern Ireland, facility has installed the jigs that will be used to assemble the primary structural components of the composite wing torque box for the forthcoming CSeries aircraft.

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Bombardier (Montrèal, Quèbec, Canada) reported on May 19 that it has begun installing semi-automated jigs at its new wing facility in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to support assembly of the advanced composite wings for the all-new CSeries aircraft.

The jigs, fixed machinery that will be used to assemble the primary structural components of the composite wing torque box, are being installed in the second phase of a new, state-of-the-art 600,000-ft2 (55,742m2) manufacturing and assembly facility. The first phase of the new factory, which will accommodate the fabrication of the composite components, was completed on schedule towards the end of 2010.

Bombardier’s Belfast operation is responsible for the design, manufacture and integration of the advanced composite wings for the CS100 and CS300 jets, including all flight control surfaces and high-lift systems. The primary structural components of the wings will be produced using resin transfer infusion (RTI), a process developed by Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast engineers.

“The installation of the wing assembly jigs is another milestone that brings us a step closer to producing wings for the CSeries aircraft program,” says Michael Ryan, vice president and general manager, Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast.

“The jigs are highly automated and will allow us to control the assembly of the wings with a high degree of precision. We already installed a specially designed assembly jig to produce a pre-production wing technology demonstrator, and are now applying what we have learned from this to the actual production assembly jigs. We are confident that, working with our suppliers, we have implemented a tooling process that meets our high production standards,” reports Ryan.

Last summer, Bombardier successfully the ultimate load test on the CSeries aircraft composite pre-production wing, replicating 150 percent of the most severe forces the wing is ever likely to experience in service (see link at right). The pre-production wing is part of the overall complex research and development program that Bombardier has undertaken to ‘prove out’ the new technology, manufacturing and assembly processes it is applying to the composite wing.

Meanwhile, all production equipment has been installed in the fabrication section of the new wing facility, which comprises a production area and low-contamination cleanroom. Equipment installed includes a fabric cutter, a multiple-axis machine cell, pre-formers, an autoclave and non-destructive testing equipment. Production of the CSeries aircraft advanced composite wings is due to begin later this year.

The CSeries is designed for the single-aisle 100- to 149-seat market.