The first wing for an A380, Airbus’ new large double deck aircraft, successfully completed a key milestone in its production yesterday evening.* The port wing for MSN001, the first flight test aircraft, was removed from its four-storey high main assembly jig at Airbus’ factory in Broughton, North Wales (UK).* It was then manoeuvred through 90 degrees to be laid in a horizontal position for the first time.
At this stage this wing weighs around 30 tonnes - including flight test instrumentation. It measures over 45 metres along its leading edge, is 11 metres wide and nearly three metres deep at the root-end (where it ultimately attaches to the fuselage).
Workers began loading the major wing components – spars, ribs, skin panels and leading and trailing edges – into the assembly jigs in early June. For the last five months, a complex programme of assembly of these and many smaller parts has been underway. This has included thorough testing and evaluation at each stage as the first wing has taken shape; culminating in the removal from the jig of the first wing-box, on schedule, yesterday.
The first A380 wing will now spend a week on a transportation ‘raft’ beside the assembly jig** whilst detailed measurements and quality control checks are carried out.* It will then be transferred to the next stage of assembly and placed in one of three dedicated two-storey bays in the new ‘equipping’ area.* Here components such as hydraulic, pneumatic and fuel systems and wiring will be fitted.* This stage will be followed by cleaning and anti-corrosion painting before a finished pair of wings is delivered from Broughton to the final assembly line in Toulouse, France in late Spring 2004.
Three sets of A380 wings are now in the main assembly jigs at Broughton – including a set of non-flying wings for static testing. The ‘partner’ of the wing removed yesterday - the starboard wing for MSN001 - is due for removal from the main jig before the end of this month.
To date Airbus has received a total of 129 firm orders and commitments from 11 customers for the A380 – an unprecedented order level for a new aircraft at this stage of its programme. The orders cover both the 555 seat and freighter versions of the new plane.
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 as well as subsidiaries in the U.S., China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.