GKN Aerospace has awarded a contract to Brotje Automation of Germany to supply an advanced "moving line" assembly system for A350XWB wing structures. The contract requires Brotje to provide a complete turnkey solution for the A350XWB wing trailing edge and main landing gear parts onto the aircraft's primary all-composite rear wing spar.
"Our A350XWB contracts are at the heart of GKN Aerospace's strategic move into the manufacture and supply of large, fully integrated sections of the aircraft wings," said Phil Swash, CEO, Aero Structures - Europe, GKN Aerospace. "In order to undertake this work, we are investing heavily in creating a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing and assembly plant at our operation in Bristol, UK. The Brotje moving line assembly equipment will form a key element in this new facility, increasing the speed, efficiency, and flexibility of the complex wing assembly process. We have been working with Brotje since 2008 on this innovative assembly line concept."
During assembly, automated guided vehicles will move the A350 wing structures through dedicated workstations that will carry out a number of advanced procedures, including five-axis machining, robotic drilling, and laser scanning. The assembly line, and the complete new GKN Aerospace manufacturing and assembly facility, will commence operating in 2010, delivering the first development A350XWB wing structures later in the year.
"Filton will become our global centre of manufacturing excellence in advanced wing structures, offering state-of-the-art composite manufacture and assembly with faster turnaround times and greater consistency and quality than has been achievable to date," said Swash. "The Filton business will be central to our drive to take a significant part of the global wing structures market over the next 30 to 40 years."