For now, a dozen copies of the A350 have been delivered to the first customers of Airbus. Starting smooth production of the most modern unit of the range of the European aircraft manufacturer that will have to quickly climb in cadence to cope with 775 orders booked to date by Airbus. In 2016, 60 should get out of the Toulouse assembly line and 95 in 2017, until it reaches its cruising speed is 125 devices per month. An industrial challenge that Europeans will have to meet if they want to catch up with Boeing that the concerns of youth for the Dreamliner (Boeing 787) are finally resolved and which nearly 200 aircrafts have been delivered.
A350, a programme of EUR 10 billion
It’s officially in 2006 that the A350 programme was officially launched. After some debates with lessors and airlines about the initial definition of the unit, Airbus must catch up on the Boeing 787, whose order book fills then at full speed. “We had to do in 2 years what we did in 8 years on the A330/A340 in terms of industrial ramp-up, make it in 3 years what took us 20 years. ” “The industrial challenge is huge ‘ explains Alain Dumas, Airbus Head of A350 Process Methods & Tools operational deployment and support.The objective of this unit is to display lower operational costs by 25% to those of his elder, the A330. In addition to its new generation Rolls-Royce engines, the aircraft is made up 53% composites, 20% aluminium lithium and 15% of titanium. Its data bus is inherited from that of the A380. It has been 6 years between the launch of the program and the Assembly of the first prototype and the first flight took place in June 2013. The first delivery was conducted late October 2014 to Qatar Airways, the launch customer for the device. According to Alain Dumas, the cost of the A350 programme was a little higher than 10 billion euros, against double for his great rival, the Boeing Dreamliner.
Operating cost reductions promised by the A350 have convinced 41 customers (airlines and lessors) who ordered 783 copies. A success which, paradoxically, now poses problem for sales of Airbus: “our main difficulty is that when a new client comes in, it cannot deliver it before 2025. “One of our challenges is to gain the flexibility on our supply chain, on our Assembly process to open new production slots and winning more customers.”
A unique mock-up to design and produce faster
Afin d’assurer la production de l’A350, Airbus est directement inspiré par le secteur de l’automobile. 80 % de la conception de l’avion est faite à l’extérieur et Airbus joue un rôle d’intégrateur, assembleur parce qu’un marché estimé à 7 000 avion, Airbus ou Boeing vont arriver plus vite produire son réglage de raflera unité. “Nous devons aller à 13 appareils par mois en 2018, l’année prochaine que nous arrivons à 5 par mois, puis 9 par mois. C’est un vrai défi sur si peu de temps. “Sur ce plan, Boeing est imbattable. L’américain sait produire rapidement, qui s’est retourné contre lui lorsque le Dreamliner avait ses problèmes de batterie. Jusqu’à une centaine avions se sont alignés sur le tarmac dans les usines de Boeing, s’attendre à des corrections à faire avant la livraison.
In addition to the 12 factories of the group assigned to the design and production of the A350 in France, Germany, Spain and United Kingdom, as well as its centers of engineering in India, Russia and China, Airbus relies on 53 ‘Sharing Partner’ which have been awarded more than 120 packages of the aircraft. «All must work on the design of the aircraft with a DMU (digital mock-up) common, shared in real-time to win time and quality on the cycles of design/build of the product.. This shared digital mockup is now accessible in real time by 4 000 engineers. It implements Catia V5, Enovia VPM and PDM Link for all of the metadata. “Our computer network allows us to share this digital model in real time. If we load a piece of plane with thousands of data, whether in Australia, Germany or in Wichita in the United States, it must be able to load in minutes this comp, the edit in story editor, and then save it to make it visible to all people on the planet. »
The digital model of the A350 represents 3 million instances of parts, 17 million links between – they, and 30 000 configurations. Completeness of the physical definition of the device is stored in this digital mockup. “To win the cycle and avoid data exchange and a round trip between dozens of partners, we had to make concurrent engineering in real-time so that everyone sees what others are doing in real time. This allowed us to win at least a year of global cycle on the definition of the aircraft, in particular on the electrical design which is the most complex problem on the aircraft.
This common DMU builds on the platform Enovia VPM of Dassault Systèmes. “On previous programs, the A320, A330 A340, it remained on PLM that were still linked to national companies and even site-specific PLM.“. One of the difficulties was to converge all of these systems, and it was complicated. For a plant as St Nazaire, he must work with different since PLM if the 350 is switched, is not the case of the previous programmes. “This digital model is used both by the engineers for the phase design (‘as planned’) and by factories and customer support. «The delivery of the aircraft, all the 3D of the aircraft documentation then the maintainability of the aircraft must be able to transmit this data particularly enriched DMU.»
The “Full 3D” arrives in Airbus factories
Today Airbus is working on a new approach to accelerate the production of its A350, the Full 3D. “It’s the physical 3D just enrich annotations to allow installation of the elements on the chain Assembly and in pre-chains. This is something which seems to fall under the meaning, but implement complex rest“. Airbus has adopted this approach 3D for the Assembly of the electrical circuits of the A350. “We give information to fitters to automate a maximum functionality in Full 3D.” The electric is particularly complex on the 350. Thanks to this, the gains are enormous: we reduced by 2 cycles engineering to provide electrical installation plans on a cycle that initially made more than 10 weeks. Knowing that we are there on the critical cycle of the aircraft, this gain is enormous. “If the manager prefers to remain discreet on the productivity gains achieved by this approach, considers that the workload of the companions was divided by 2, electric circuits mounting is increased from 10 within 5 days today… “This is what allowed us to make our first flight time and time.”
The delays in the early 2000s on the industrialization of the A380 have well shown, the role of the electrical circuits in airliners is critical. Not only these system are complex, but every change to an element of the aircraft it is structural or equipment has an impact on an electric element. ‘The electricians and installers suffer from all of the changes affecting the aircraft’ summarises Alain Dumas. Patrick Péronnet, Dassault Systèmes PLM Program Manager explains how to is setting up the Full 3D at Airbus approach: “the plane is divided into “design solutions” which is the basic element and has its associated assembly lines. It is the element of work of the companion as he must perform its mounting. This is so a 3D model extracted from common DMU running on the Tablet PC, a 3D XML locally on the Tablet model. There are predefined views but the user is free to navigate in 3D in this model. »
Now the approach has demonstrated its effectiveness on electrical circuits and post electrical harnesses for the A350. Alain Dumas wants to extend it to other areas as is the case of the Hamburg plant that uses augmented reality glasses to achieve developments in the cabin of the A380. “We have developed the full 3D for the electric and it is absolutely necessary to push it on other areas, in particular to install elements of the cabin. Stop 2D drawings, turn to the full 3D, 3D annotated to allow the installer to do its job-based 3D. “It evokes the mechanical, piping, fixing elements, etc., the purpose being to eliminate small, small plans paper in the workshops.
In addition to greater efficiency, the elimination of the risk of error in mounting, this mobile approach must also provide the flexibility that should assure the montée cadence of the A350: “through Delmia, we can play on the technical sequencing, play new scenarios to optimize the Assembly of the aircraft. To pass a rate of 3 aircraft / months to 7 and 13, before to say that need more people, more equipment and a new plant, we need to rethink the technical sequencing to parallelize tasks, work differently. This is what we try to do at St Nazaire, which is very engine on the subject, but this is not simple because when a plant is working on 4-5 different programs, it has terrible production requirements. »