Airbus, Hexcel celebrate National Composites Week with milestone production rate
Airbus Americas Vice President of Procurement, Pierre-Laurent Mace (center), and members of the Hexcel Salt Lake City manufacturing team celebrate more than 40 years of the two companies collaborating and growing jobs in Utah. Source | Hexcel
Airbus (Toulouse, France) and Hexcel (Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.) celebrated more than 40 years of collaboration at an event in Salt Lake City. The event was timed to coincide with the launch of the first National Composites Week, which has been established to celebrate the growing influence of composites — especially in commercial aerospace. In addition, the two companies are celebrating a significant milestone: Hexcel Salt Lake City is entering its first year at full rate for the A350 program.
Hexcel has been a prime supplier of composite materials to Airbus since the early 1970s when carbon fiber spoilers and fairings for the first A300 were manufactured. Today, Hexcel products are found on every Airbus commercial aircraft in service.
Hexcel Salt Lake City supports Airbus programs with multiple carbon fiber lines and has ramped up production steadily over the past several years to meet Airbus requirements. The plant is producing record-setting volume of aerospace-grade carbon fiber used to produce material for Airbus and its suppliers. Several other Hexcel plants worldwide also support various Airbus programs.
Airbus Americas Vice President of Procurement, Pierre-Laurent Mace (left), thanks members of the Hexcel Salt Lake City manufacturing team for their dedication to the two companies’ 40-year partnership. Source | Hexcel
“Airbus has worked with Hexcel for more than 40 years, from the A300B back in the 70s, where the first secondary structures were made in composite, to today with the A350 XWB,” Pierre-Laurent Mace, Vice President-Airbus Americas Procurement, said to Hexcel employees at the event. “This aircraft is more than 50 percent lightweight composite material. Combined with the very latest aerodynamics, and the new generation engines, the A350 XWB brings a 25% advantage in fuel burn and operating costs. Each aircraft has close to $5 million of Hexcel advanced composites on board. That is something to be proud of.”
Nick Stanage, Hexcel Chairman, President and CEO added, “Our partnership with Airbus is one of our most valued customer relationships, and the A350 contract was the largest in our history. Thanks to Airbus’ confidence in our people, products and processes, we have clearly proven that our advanced composites are the way of the future in next-generation commercial aircraft programs.”
Since the first A350 was delivered in December 2014, Hexcel Salt Lake City employment has grown to about 1,200 people, largely fueled by the A350 program growth.
Applications aren't as demanding as airframe composites, but requirements are still exacting — passenger safety is key.
A look at the process by which precursor becomes carbon fiber through a careful (and mostly proprietary) manipulation of temperature and tension.
Oven-cured, vacuum-bagged prepregs show promise in production primary structures.