Largest-ever civil aircraft composite part: A350-1000 wingskin
The wings for the first Airbus A350- 1000 commercial aircraft have entered the assembly stage at the Airbus (Toulouse, France) manufacturing site in Broughton, North Wales, UK.
Although the Airbus A350-1000 wing has the same span as the A350-900 aircraft that is already in service, 90% of the parts that make up the A350-1000 have been modified, and its trailing edge has been extended to resize the wing for the plane’s additional payload and range. At 32m long by 6m wide, therefore, the largest A350 XWB aircraft’s upper wingskin is also the largest single part made from carbon fiber composite material currently in use in civil aviation today.
The upper wingskins for the A350-1000 were designed and developed at the Airbus facility in Filton, near Bristol, where a number of other systems are designed and tested, including the plane’s fuel systems and landing gear.
The high-performance wings of the A350 XWB aircraft family reportedly make the plane faster, more fuel-efficient and (for the passengers) quieter. The wing design includes several streamlined features. Among these are droop-nose leading edge devices and new adaptive dropped-hinge flaps, which increase the jetliner’s fuel efficiency at low speeds.
To improve fuel efficiency at higher speeds, the A350 XWB reportedly can deflect its wing flaps differentially, optimizing the wing profile and, thus, providing better load control.
Compared to legacy materials like steel, aluminum, iron and titanium, composites are still coming of age, and only just now are being better understood by design and manufacturing engineers. However, composites’ physical properties — combined with unbeatable light weight — make them undeniably attractive.
Tried-and-true materials thrive, but new approaches and new forms designed to process faster are entering the marketplace.
Fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) replacing coated steel in more reinforced-concrete applications.