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GKN Aerospace wins award for A350 XWB carbon fibre rear wing spar

News International-French

10 Oct 2013

The British Plastics Federation (BFP) and the Worshipful Company of Horners have awarded the 2013 Horners Award for Plastics Innovation and Design to GKN Aerospace for its ‘highly innovative’ Airbus A350 XWB carbon fibre rear wing spar.

This award recognises the development and production programme that has seen GKN Aerospace engineers, working closely with the Airbus team, achieve demanding goals for the A350 XWB wing spar that will help increase the aircraft's performance and reduce its weight, fuel consumption and emissions.

Each wing's 27m long rear spar is manufactured in three sections and forms the structural heart of the wing fixed trailing edge (FTE). The spar attaches vital parts including the main landing gear, to the wing. Its complex integral contours are achievable only as a result of manufacturing innovations introduced by GKN Aerospace and these contours provide the specific strength and flexibility required with minimal weight.
Once the spar is manufactured, GKN Aerospace is responsible for assembling the complete wing FTE and delivering this assembly to Airbus in Broughton ready for integration onto the wing.

To produce this complex spar structure and assemble the WTE, the company has created an automated manufacturing and assembly facility near Bristol, England, where it has introduced innovations across product design manufacture and assembly, including material deposition, tooling and forming, finishing, assembly and testing.  Here, among many process innovations, advanced automated fibre placement (AFP) machines use robotic heads to lay down carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) material at more than eight times the maximum hand lay-up speed - and with a consistency and accuracy that is impossible to achieve manually. Using this new facility, the company can produce lightweight CFRP components with complex, bespoke geometries, and integrate complete assemblies swiftly, cost effectively and consistently.
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