Airbus’ newest aircraft, the A350XWB, has today reached a significant developmental milestone by achieving type certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Certification by EASA (with US FAA certification to follow) will now allow Airbus to begin delivering the 750 orders to its 39 customers around the world – set to start by the end of 2014 with Qatar Airways.
The certification is also a milestone for the UK’s Aerospace industry, which has had a significant role in both the manufacture of the aircraft, as well as its new & innovative technology developments.
Airbus’ UK operation based in Broughton North Wales, is responsible for the manufacture of the all A350 wings – which are made up of over 50% high strength, lightweight composite materials. The North Factory, which houses the wing manufacturing facility, was opened in 2011, represents a £400m investment, and will house around 600-700 jobs. The A350XWB programme in total will support over 1,200 jobs in the Airbus sites at both Filton and Broughton.
Rolls-Royce in Derby have designed, developed and manufactured the new Trent XWB engine for the A350. The TrentXWB has been produced by a team of 2,000 staff in Derby, makes up 53% of Rolls-Royce order book and is valued at £60bn to the company. The new technology within the engine also ensures that the A350 has 25% less carbon emissions per passenger than any current generation aircraft.
However, once passengers start to fly on the A350 (UK passengers will be able to fly on British Airways’ 18 currently on order) they will also find content from suppliers in the UK’s Aerospace industry throughout the aircraft. The variety of suppliers into the programme include:
- Messier-Bugatti Dowty – based in Gloucester, Messier produce and supply the A350’s main landing gear.
- GKN Aerospace in Filton & Isle of Wight supply the passenger cabin windows (PCW) – 1114 per aircraft.
- Leominister based company HR Smith, have produced both UHF and VHF communication antennas.
- AM Safe in Bridport Dorset, will supply the bulk cargo nets for the entire life of the A350.
- IPECO in Southend, will supply many of the galley inserts – examples of which include ovens, freezers and water boilers to service food and drink to passengers.
- Ultra Electronics will supply the Ground Door Operating System which allows maintenance workers to open landing gear doors and access the landing gear bay.
Major UK Suppliers to A350XWB
By 2018, up to 100 A350XWB a year could be being delivered by Airbus – representing a significant long term order book for suppliers across the UK’s Aerospace Industry.