Airbus has completed assembly of its first full-size prototype of its Wing of Tomorrow technology demonstrator ahead of testing
The completion of the first of the three fully composite wing demonstrators has included the integration of more than 100 different component and manufacturing technologies. These have included a new assembly system, and helped validate key automation targets.
Assembly of the first prototype wing began in September at Airbus’ Filton site in the UK.
Three full-size prototype wings will be manufactured in total: one will be used to understand systems integration; a second will be structurally tested to compare against computer modelling, while a third will be assembled to test scaling-up production and compare against industrial modeling.
Sabine Klauke, Airbus’ chief technical officer said, “Wing of Tomorrow brings a completely different build philosophy to the way we currently assemble wings and is a crucial part of our R&T portfolio that will help us assess the industrial feasibility of wing production in the future.”
The Wing of Tomorrow program has been lead from Airbus’ site in Filton, UK and is developing several high-performance wing technologies which could be incorporated on the company’s next generation of aircraft , including a folding wing tip.
Assembly of the Wing of Tomorrow will eradicate in-tank working, where staff have to work in confined spaces and enables the integration of manual and automated assembly in an industrial system. Learning from this first and subsequent wing demonstrators will inform design and manufacturing choices for its future aircraft wings, Airbus said.
Wing of Tomorrow composite components are designed to make the best use of technologies and reduce the amount of work during the assembly phase by more than 50%. Other areas targeted for improvement include automation of the remaining drilling, achieving good tolerance control and wing shape and the introduction of new approaches to inspection and validation.