Airbus completes A350 XWB all CFRP fuselage demonstrator test barrel

Airbus A350XWB Fuselage Demonstrator Test Barrel 1BImage copyright Airbus, photographer C. Brinkmann

This second-generation of CFRP (Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic) fuselage demonstrator was designed to be very close to the final design of the A350 XWB fuselage as it will be used for certification of design principles and sizing methods.

The barrel demonstrator measures 18 metres in length and more than six metres in diameter. Its three sections closely reflect the final design of the A350 XWB fuselage and were used to develop and validate the complete process chain from the manufacture of individual panels, frames and clips, to shell assembly and section assembly and the production of circumferential joints.

The main objective of Barrel 1B is to support the validation of design principles and sizing methods. The tests performed on this barrel will mainly focus on the fatigue and damage tolerance of the composite structures, since the barrel will be part of the certification of the aircraft.

Innovations include the production of large CFRP panels – the largest with a chord length of 5.5 metres-automated shell assembly, section assembly, and tolerance management, particularly for circumferential joints. The extensive use of CFRP is a significant advance with the panels, frames, window frames, clips, and door all being made from it, with a hybrid door frame structure consisting of CFRP and titanium being used for the first time.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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