Airbus begins building first Wing of Tomorrow prototype


Airbus, has started assembly of its first full-size wing prototype for its Wing of Tomorrow research program.

The Wing of Tomorrow program will test the latest composite materials and new technologies in aerodynamics and wing architecture. It is also being used to explore how wing manufacturing and industrialization can be improved to meet future market demands as the aerospace sector emerges from the pandemic.

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 modelling.

Sub-assembly of the complex wing cover took place at Airbus’ Filton site, England, having been manufactured at the National Composite Centre in Bristol. The wing cover and a major component from GKN Aerospace – the fixed trailing edge – were delivered to the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Wales facility on Airbus’ wing-production plant site in Broughton, Flintshire, for assembly.

The first wing demonstrator will be fully equipped and tested at the AMRC Wales site in Broughton. The second wIng demonstrator will be transported to Airbus Filton near Bristol, where it will be structurally tested at Airbus’ new AirTEC facility.

The three wing demonstrators will bring together more than 100 new technologies to explore  manufacturing and assembly techniques with the goal of making aviation more sustainable.

Sabine Klauke, chief technical officer of Airbus said, “Wing of Tomorrow is a crucial part of Airbus’ research and technology portfolio, will help us assess the industrial feasibility of future wing production.

“High-performing wing technology is one of several solutions – alongside sustainable aviation fuels and hydrogen – we can implement to contribute to aviation’s decarbonisation ambition.  Wing of Tomorrow is also an example of how large-scale industry collaboration will be critical to achieving our sector’s agenda for a more sustainable future.”

Wing of Tomorrow is being part-funded by the UK Government through the Aerospace Technology Institute and involves global partners and teams across Airbus’ European sites, including Bremen in Germany, where the ‘Wing Moveables’ team is based.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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