Development of which is gathering pace.

Alain

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Airbus A400M Wing Centre opened

Airbus A400M Wing Centre Opened By UK Defence Procurement Minister
Toulouse, 21 September 2006
Today, the UK defence procurement minister, Lord Drayson, officially opened the production centre at the Airbus Filton plant, near Bristol, where wings for the A400M military transport aircraft will be assembled.
The first set of A400M components is already being worked on in one of the 8,000 square metre manufacturing centre’s two sets of wing assembly jigs. A third set of wing assembly jigs will be installed as the production rate builds up to three sets of wings per month.
The A400M, the world’s most modern military transport aircraft, represents a major step in Airbus wing technology as it features the first-ever composite (carbon fibre reinforced plastic, CFRP) wing-box for an Airbus-built aircraft. It is also believed to be the largest composite wing ever made.
The £70 million (Euro100 million) wing centre is equipped with new, state-of-the-art, jigs and tools – and with automated machinery including high-precision automated wing drilling equipment. Wing-box construction consists of pre-assembled leading and trailing edges made of composite spars, metallic ribs and 20 metre-long composite wing skins which incorporate integrated stringers (longitudinal stiffeners).
After assembly, wings will be fully equipped with hydraulic, pneumatic, fuel and electrical systems and fitted with flying control surfaces. They will then be fully tested before delivery from Filton by Airbus A300-600ST “Beluga” aircraft, to the A400M aircraft final assembly line in Seville, Spain.
The first set of wings will be delivered ready for the start of aircraft final assembly in March 2007. The first six sets of aircraft wings and the fatigue and static test wings will also be specially equipped with additional instrumentation and other equipment for flight test and ground testing the whole aircraft.
Speaking at the wing centre opening ceremony, Lord Drayson said, “The A400M is a vital part of the UK's future military capability. I am delighted to open this fantastic facility, which is an important step towards delivering the aircraft to the seven partner nations. The A400M wing was designed in the UK and having this manufacturing facility here in Filton further reinforces the UK's tradition as Europe's centre of excellence for hybrid composite wing technology.”
Tom Williams, Airbus Executive Vice President Programmes emphasised the importance of the A400M programme to the company and said, “To date, all the A400M contract milestones have been met on time and we are giving top priority to continuing to fully meet our programme obligations on this exciting and important programme in the months and years ahead.”
Firm orders for A400M now stand at 192 aircraft (180 in the original order for seven European NATO nations through OCCAR i.e., 60 for Germany; 50 for France; 27 for Spain; 25 for the UK; 10 for Turkey; 7 for Belgium and 1 for Luxembourg); plus 12 aircraft ordered by two further customers (8 aircraft for South Africa and 4 for Malaysia).
The A400M, the world’s most modern military transport aircraft, will first fly in 2008, with deliveries beginning from 2009.
A leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive product line on the market, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK and Spain; and subsidiaries in the USA, China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.