Work begins on advanced Airbus wing facility

Posted on 13 Feb 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Almost 200 employees have gathered at Filton, Bristol, to mark the start of construction on the Airbus Wing Integration Centre, a £40m new technology research and test facility.

The Airbus Wing Integration Centre has been specifically designed to provide the most advanced working environment and tools for Airbus, alongside its suppliers, partners, and academia, to deliver the next generation of aircraft wing, landing gear system and fuel system designs.

Benefiting via funding from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), the Centre will reportedly operate an ‘open door’ policy where potential suppliers and research partners can make use of the equipment and laboratory space, giving a benefit that goes beyond the aircraft manufacturer.

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The facility will house Airbus aerospace engineers working in early stage research right through to in-service aircraft improvements, as well as emerging technologies. Engineers are expected to have access to an innovative, highly flexible, and easily adaptable physical test environment which will form a proving ground for future technologies, new materials and manufacturing techniques, as well as novel and more efficient testing processes.

UK general manager and HR director, Mark Stewart explained: “Creating the wing of the future will be no easy task. The teams will explore the best materials, manufacturing and assembly techniques available as well as new technologies in aerodynamics and wing architecture.

“The Airbus Wing Integration Centre will provide the team with the latest equipment to perform a range of diverse and extensive testing.”

According to the company, the Filton site was chosen due to it being home to 1,600 engineers who specialise in wing design, as well as fuel and landing gear systems integration. They have designed all of the Airbus wings, including the double-deck A380, the majority composite A350 XWB, and the fuel saving Sharklet wing tips.

These engineers will be incorporating the disruptive technology that will be incubated in the Airbus Wing Integration Centre into the next generation of fuel efficient aircraft in the aims of delivering the designs for the “Wing of the Future”.

The Filton site is also home to Airbus Group Innovations’ 3D printing plateau and digital manufacturing laboratory, and the Airbus low speed wind tunnel, and is close to complimentary research facilities such as and the National Composites Centre.