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Premier has Airbus A350 XWB under control

Based in St Albans, Hertfordshire, Premier is one of the UK's largest providers of specialist deep hole drilling, gun drilling and honing services. As a tier two supplier to the aerospace industry, the company has been selected to machine and supply critical actuator components for the new Airbus A350 XWB programme.

Airbus has received firm orders for nearly 500 of its new A350 XWB (Xtra-Wide-Body) aircraft, a long-range, mid-size, wide-body family of airliners currently under development. The A350 XWB will be the first Airbus with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), and it is designed to compete with the Boeing 777 and the Boeing 787. Airbus claims that it will be more fuel-efficient, with up to 8 per cent lower operating cost than the Boeing 787.

Premier Deep Hole Drilling has been selected to supply tightly toleranced actuation components which will feature in the '2H2E' (two hydraulic and two electric) architecture, developed to control the A380 but used even more extensively on the A350 XWB.

Scheduled to enter service in 2013 the A350XWB will be made out of 53 per cent composites, 19 per cent Al/Al-Li, 14 per cent titanium, 6 per cent steel and 8 per cent miscellaneous. The composite frames will feature aluminium strips to ensure the electrical conductivity of the fuselage (for dissipating lightning strikes).

The A350 will feature new all-composite wings that will be common to all three proposed variants of the aircraft – the 270-passenger A350-800, the 314-passenger A350-900 and the 350-passenger A350-1000. With a wingspan of 64 m and an area of 443 m2 it will be the largest wing ever produced for a single-deck widebody aircraft.

Airbus is planning a £570 million (US$760 million) investment to upgrade composite capability at its Broughton site in the UK, in preparation for its role as final assembly location for the A350 XWB wing. In June 2009, the Welsh Assembly announced provision of a £28 million grant to provide a training centre, production jobs and money towards the new production centre.

A new trailing-edge high-lift system has been adopted with an advanced dropped-hinge flap (similar to that of the A380), which permits the gap between the trailing edge and the flap to be closed with the spoiler. Extensive use of computational fluid dynamics has been carried out with more than 4000 hours of low- and high-speed wind tunnel testing to refine the aerodynamic design.

Primary Flight Control Actuation on the A350 XWB will feature the '2H2E' (two hydraulic and two electric) architecture developed for the A380. Discrete actuators and associated control electronics for this programme include a mix of EHA (electrohydrostatic actuators) and EBHA (electrical back-up hydraulic actuators) to control the Aileron, Elevator, Rudder and Spoiler flight surfaces.

"To maximise the benefits achieved by constructing the superstructure from advanced composite materials the movement of the flight control surfaces also had to be evaluated for this new airliner. With more electric actuation technology than any previous aircraft the motion and control techniques employed has placed a number of demands and challenges upon the engineering supply chain," explains managing director, Stuart Grant. "For example, ever increasing component quality requirements result in much tighter manufacturing tolerances. These new parts only have an allowance of a few microns on both straightness and concentricity over the length of the components, that are more than 1m long. To achieve this requires increased control on raw material specifications, correct machining feeds and speeds, reliable heat treatment services and bespoke fixturing at the relevant manufacturing stages. However, this all leads to a much simplified and cost-effective final machining process."

Certified to BS EN ISO 9002, accredited to AS9100 and signatories of the SC21 supply chain initiative, Premier has 35 knowledgeable staff that thrive on such challenges, and work in conjunction with customers' development teams to provide timely solutions as well as robust and reliable manufacturing systems. "We constantly invest in manufacturing and machine tool technology to ensure we provide our customers with the services they are searching for," Stuart Grant concludes.

Press release issued by Premier Deep Hole Drilling Ltd on July 13, 2010


 Contact details from our directory:
Premier Deep Hole Drilling Ltd Drilling Equipment, Boring & Drilling Services, Mechanical Actuators
Airbus S.A.S. Airframer


 Related aircraft programs:
Airbus A350 XWB


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