Northrop Grumman and Airbus finalize Wing of Tomorrow program agreement

The agreement positions Northrop Grumman for work on next generation composite manufacturing technology.

Northrop Grumman Corp. (Falls Church, VA, US) announced Oct. 16 that it has finalized a Cooperation and Research Agreement (CRA) to work with Airbus (Tolouse, France) on the Wing of Tomorrow program. The three-year agreement expands the current Northrop Grumman relationship with Airbus and explores complex composite wing stiffener-forming automation with out-of-autoclave material systems through an investment in equipment, test articles and engineering support. This relationship positions Northrop Grumman for future potential high-rate production opportunities. 

Northrop Grumman is currently producing composite fuselage stringers and frames for the Airbus A350 XWB-900 and -1000 variants at its Aircraft Commercial Center of Excellence facility in Clearfield, UT, US, at a facility originally operated by ATK, and then Orbital ATK. Northrup Grumman acquired Orbital ATK earlier in 2018. The company has successfully delivered more than 200,000 Airbus A350 parts since the inception of the program.

Northrop Grumman says its proprietary automated stiffener-forming process has been instrumental in the development and manufacture of high-rate production composite stringers and frames that are high quality, affordable and dimensionally precise. This technology will be evolved to meet new material systems, geometries and processing needs, while maintaining the benefits of a highly automated production process.

The Airbus Wing of Tomorrow program is designed to address future aggressive aircraft production rates and the requirement for wings to be made faster and more affordably. The program will explore the best materials, manufacturing and assembly techniques, as well as new technologies in aerodynamics and wing architecture. 

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