Working hard at its various facilities in the UK, Germany, and France, planemaker Airbus continues to make progress on its highly anticipated A321XLR. Earlier this week, the company gave us further insight into the development of the type and the equipment being used to prepare the model for mass production.
A photo of Airbus’ Pre-Industrial System Accelerator “PISA”– for A321XLR Centre and Aft Fuselage (CAF). Photo: Airbus
Bringing an aircraft to market – especially one that is mass-produced – doesn’t come easily- well, not if you want it to be safe and reliable. To ensure that the production process has a solid foundation in which all potential flaws and complications are identified, Airbus is sparing no expense in its testing and use of demonstrators, both physical and virtual. As such, the company provided an in-depth look into the process as it relates to the exciting, new A321XLR.
Components and parts in the final test phase
Airbus announced at the end of March that it has been preparing major component production lines for manufacturing the A321XLR. These production lines are situated at various Airbus facilities across the UK, Germany, and France.
Furthermore, the planemaker has announced that many A321XLR components and parts are “now in the final test phase to de-risk the route to flight clearance and serial manufacturing.”
As part of these final phases, various demonstrators will validate design work and assembly processes, ensuring that the parts are fully prepared for manufacturing. Additionally, full-size demonstrators are being used to pre-train production-line staff at the final assembly facility in Hamburg, where the first A321XLR will be built.
Looking into Airbus’ Physical Mock-Up “PMU” – for A321XLR Nose & Forward Fuselage (NFF). Photo: Airbus
As part of Airbus’ statement, Gary O’Donnell, Head of the A321XLR program, notes that the use of these demonstrators can be divided into three steps:
“The early physical demonstrators and the virtual demonstrators enable us to validate our design decisions and close these topics.
“Then we have the second stage: the full-scale production standard demonstrators which primarily support the training and the industrial process maturity, and they help secure our ramp-up, as we run them ‘at rate’.
“Then for the third level, we are running demonstrators for maintenance, repair and customer support teams, in order that they can use the demonstrators to create the airline documents, the technical documents and repair manuals,”
Combining physical demonstrators with VR and AR
O’Donnell went on to explain that there is a mixture of physical demonstrators with both virtual reality and augmented reality- also known as VR and AR, respectively.
“[This allows] the teams to really test how they can change and fix parts in the operations system – whether in a hangar or on the apron, so that when they are writing the repair manuals or the technical documents they have been able to check on these virtual references to make the process easier.” – Gary O’Donnell, Head of the A321XLR program, Airbus, as per statement.
Airbus says that the Physical Mock-Up in Hamburg is focusing on the A321XLR’s major components, which include rear-center-tank (RCT) integration, water tank integration, the extended fuel system, and the modified hydraulic system. Photo: Airbus
With this article providing just a very brief introduction to Airbus’ development of the A321XLR, we should note that the company has gone into much more detail regarding its physical mock-ups and “Pre-Industrial System Accelerators.” If you’re interested in learning more, you can visit their page here.
With the manufacturer continuing to gear up towards major component assembly of the first forward fuselage, center and rear fuselage sections, and the wings, Airbus is hoping to commence final assembly in the second half of 2021.
Are you surprised at all the phases and stages Airbus is going through to develop the A321XLR? Let us know in the comments.
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