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Airbus pondering an all composite A350XWB?

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posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 12:43 AM
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This little tidbit was burried in an AWST article from last week.



However, several industry officials say Airbus and EADS are reviewing whether to shift the technology base for the A350XWB from a mix of aluminum-lithium and composites to an almost all-composite fuselage, not unlike the rival 787. Such a move likely would push the in-service date for the aircraft to around 2014 or 2015, they add, but also allow EADS to rebuild its cash position in the next two years before some of the largest investments in the project are needed.

Composite?


This change could make things quite intersting to say the least. First, it may delay the launch of the A350 a bit more giving more momentum for Boeing to open a second 787 line thus securing more deliveries. Airbus has experience with composites, simply not on this scale so it would add some development time to the project. Which in hindsight may be what the company needs to allow it to sort out the A380 etc.

But airlines may be willing to wait a bit longer for a plane with all new technology and any weight savings could make the plane into a sig. threat to the 777 as well as the 787.




posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 11:02 PM
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They have troubles with what they know. Now they are going to create a plane with what they don't know.
It seems they are trying anything to see what works with customers. But were are they going to get the suppliers. Boeing is having trouble with theirs because of the complexity of the task and I bet Boeing has the best, plus the got tons of experience in composites from their military divisions (think all the things that McDonnell Douglas and Boeing have done before: the F-22, YF23, X32, subcontracts on the B-2 and so on), so now Airbus decides to go with composites. Their biggest expert on those was BAE and is gone...

And so they have to start a design from zero, again when is this plane going to be ready? 2020?
By that time, the 787 will be on their third revision and the Y3 will be beginning to fly, the problem was that A350 will be made to compete with a 2008 plane not a 2020 and any wise Airline will probably wait for the next thing.



posted on Oct, 27 2006 @ 11:12 AM
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Well, although its not quite the leap into the unknown that carch seems to think, and its actually true that Airbus track record of introducing new technology to commercial aircraft at least matches, if not exceeds, that of Boeing I still think this would be a mistake.

I have no doubt that Airbus could do this if they wanted to, a huge amount of the XWB is already made of CFC materials despite Carch's beliefs, I just happen to think that another change to the design and another delay in producing it makes what is already a poor impression of the company not knowing what it wants to do even worse.



posted on Oct, 27 2006 @ 11:17 AM
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Lithium?


Doesn't litium burn up explosively on contact with water? Excuse my ignorance, but please tell me how in the hell could they use lithium metal in an aircraft body?



posted on Oct, 27 2006 @ 12:11 PM
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its not pure lithium, its an aluminium-lithium alloy which allows for stronger but lighter structures.
Here's a link which I found with a quickie search;



posted on Oct, 27 2006 @ 01:17 PM
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After seeing that dreadful horizontal landing alignment process with the tail moving up and down then the bouncing landing of the first media watched landing, I figured something might be out of whack with the A350 design. Not that it is for certain but it was one terrible landing seldom shown on TV since.

Thanks for the tidbit FredT. Going to do some searching now.

Dallas



posted on Oct, 27 2006 @ 02:52 PM
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My point is that working with composites on a big scale is a tremendous task. As I mentioned some 787 suppliers are late. So now Airbus with its organisation process would try to create a whole new production system in a mass scale which they haven't try. And I mean how long would they take them to set up the process with countries fighting for getting the manufacturing process
then setting it up and put to run all in time. I am sure they will eventually do it, but it will be 2020.
In the meantime Boeing will be with a 787 in full swing, Y1 already flying and Y3 about to. Nice prospect.

My suggestion is stop messing with the A350XWB, release what you have ASAP, focus that CHRP tech to the A320 replacement so that the experience can be used as platform for the A340/350 replacement.



posted on Oct, 27 2006 @ 03:49 PM
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I pretty much agree with all of that Carch , except that I think Airbus needs to launch the XWB as revealed at Farnborough.

I believe that if Airbus cannot feasibly launch the XWB as well as develop a replacement for the A320 then they might as well forget about the 787 size class altogether, as launching the old style A350 will only drain resources and eat up development time for no return.



posted on Oct, 27 2006 @ 06:47 PM
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Originally posted by waynos
its not pure lithium, its an aluminium-lithium alloy which allows for stronger but lighter structures.
Here's a link which I found with a quickie search;


According to your link, it still seems to be a fire/explosion hazard.

I still can't believe anyone would use this in an aircraft.



posted on Oct, 27 2006 @ 07:02 PM
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Originally posted by djohnsto77

Originally posted by waynos
its not pure lithium, its an aluminium-lithium alloy which allows for stronger but lighter structures.
Here's a link which I found with a quickie search;


According to your link, it still seems to be a fire/explosion hazard.

I still can't believe anyone would use this in an aircraft.


I believe, if I remember my chemistry classes, that because Aluminium has 3 outer electrons and Lithium has one, they form a strong bond together, completeing an outer shell of 4 electrons... Now, I am trying to remember from 10 years back, but I think i am on to something.

Once bonded, because they form a stable shell of 4 electrons, they are difficult to make react to anything else.

Otherwise, if the alloy got wet, not only would the Lithium go banana's, creating a huge amount of heat and the Aluminium would also burn. Not a good recipe. But, it obviously works....



posted on Oct, 27 2006 @ 07:14 PM
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From what I read on there (although I'm as far removed from an expert as you can get) it is only explosive when present in molten form or in very fine dust. I suppose if either of these conditions applied to an airliner in which you were travelling you would already be beyond caring whether the alloy was going to explode.



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