Carbon fiber and prepreg manufacturer Hexcel (Duxford, Cambridge, U.K.) reported on Aug. 24 that two recent significant milestones in the Airbus A350 XWB program featured composite structures made with Hexcel material.
On Aug. 8, Airbus delivered the first A350 XWB center wing box from Airbus’ site in Nantes, France, to its St. Nazaire, France, facility for assembly into the first A350 XWB fuselage central section. This was followed on Aug. 12 by the delivery of the first A350 XWB keel beam, again from Nantes to St. Nazaire.
Both of these large composite structures were built with HexPly M21E/IMA carbon fiber and prepreg from Hexcel. Hexcel was awarded the contract by Airbus to supply HexPly M21E/IMA for all of the A350 XWB primary structures.
According to Airbus, the biggest panels produced for the center wing box, made entirely from carbon fiber, have a surface area of 36m2/388 ft2,making them the largest “monobloc” composite panels ever manufactured at the Nantes facility. The A350 XWB structure is 53 percent composite-based, including major elements such as wings and fuselage.