The next commercial airliner to be built after the A380 superjumbo, by Airbus, France, will involve a step change in the amount of composites used in its design.
The European aerospace company says that 52% of the structural weight of the A350 aircraft will be made from composites, mainly carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRPs). Aluminium and aluminium alloys will account for 20%, titanium 14% and steel 7%.
This is a large increase from the A380, of which 25% is made from composites. Prior to the A380, Airbus designed its aircraft with around 10% made from composites.
Head of the A350 programme, Jochen Kopp, said that the greater useof composites is due to airline customers demanding more lightweightaircraft. The benefits to airlines of using CFRPs include lower fuelconsumption, reduced maintenance costs and longer aircraft life, he said.
These factors have already led Airbus to change its original plan for the A350's fuselage from aluminium construction to a CFRP-aluminium hybrid. The A350, which will be developed over the next few years,will also use composites in the vertical tail plane, the wings and the belly fairing.
For further information, contact: Airbus, 316 route de Bayonne, F-31060 Toulouse, France; tel: +33-5-6193-9723; fax: +33-5-6193-6955; Internet:
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