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5 latest innovative equipments by Airbus.

Airbus A321XLR Reaches Final Phase of Certification Process
1. “Lining up” for innovation: A new non-destructive testing tool takes off with the Airbus A350 XWB

An easy-to-use testing tool for inspecting the composite airframe of Airbus’ popular A350 XWB jetliner has become a commercial success itself, with key airline customers ordering the device to support their daily operations.

Named the Line Tool, this ultrasound system is used to inspect an A350 in the event of impact shocks. These can occur at airports if, for example, catering trucks, baggage loaders or other vehicles make hard contact with an aircraft.

Easily portable in a small-sized suitcase, the Line Tool offers a simple and cost-effective solution for on-site inspections, and can be utilised by airline personnel who are not experts in composite materials. In addition, Line Tool employs the non-destructive testing (NDT) principle that allows damage assessments to be made without affecting the fuselage or wing area that is examined.

“The Line Tool delivers an automatic diagnosis, which means that airlines can carry out their own tests straight away,” explained Patrick Métayer, the head of non-destructive testing at Airbus.


2.Airbus’ innovative cable tie solution transitions from the shop floor to the world

A patented, paper-based Airbus solution that improves the process for installing cables and wires throughout an aircraft is now going global, underscoring the company’s continuing role as an innovation leader.

The idea began with Marc Bennion, a long-time Airbus employee working at the aircraft manufacturer’s Broughton, UK facility – which is responsible for assembling wings for all Airbus commercial jetliners, including the new-generation A350 XWB.

Bennion was fitting wiring to a wing when he realised that using pliers to snip off the plastic ties – which keep the cables organised – sometimes caused accidental damage. As even very minor damage results in the replacement of an entire cable, this was increasing costs and time spent, as well as causing frustration for Bennion and his colleagues.

As an alternative, Bennion proposed the idea of paper ties that could be torn off by hand instead. After experiments with several designs, a prototype was approved and subsequently patented by Airbus UK.  “Marc’s name appears on the patent alongside Airbus,” said project leader Maud Didnee. “It proves that every idea matters and that innovation can be about simple ways of making a routine job easier.”

3.Virtual solutions provide real benefits for Airbus’ Beluga XL development.

As Airbus continues development of its next-generation oversize cargo transporter – the Beluga XL – the company has devised innovative solutions that are advancing this particular programme and will be used to benefit others in the future.

Among the innovation solutions is a new method for systems installation design that leverages 3D technology and virtual reality. As the existing A330 Family digital mock-up (DMU) only included the aircraft’s structural definition in some sections and not its systems, François Rouyre – who is Airbus’ head of DMU and structure, systems and cabin integration – had an interesting idea. “We decided to scan the physical aircraft with its system installation to check the DMU and give us complete visibility on its systems.”

Rouyre used a 3D laser scanner to produce a highly-detailed, 360-degree image. As this large file would be difficult to manipulate in computer-aided design software, he added it into the DMU in virtual reality – inside a full-scale virtual reality room so designers could then work on it directly.

“You can design about 20 metres of electrical bundles in an hour with virtual reality, whereas for CAD software, one metre takes four hours,” Rouyre added. “This method could be used by other programmes to quickly change a definition, answer a concession or a design query note.”

4. Airbus innovation effectively streamlines the repair process for fibre optic cables

A transnational, transfunctional Airbus team has been honoured for developing a highly-efficient new method to repair fibre optic cables, which are used extensively across the company’s product line of modern commercial jetliners.

Lighter than traditional metallic wiring and offering much higher bandwidths, fibre optic cables are applied throughout an aircraft – integrated in taxi aid cameras, head-up displays, in-flight entertainment, cockpit systems and other key components. However, if non-conformities were discovered in a cable during its installation, making the necessary repairs was a costly and time-consuming process.

Project co-leader Laetitia Mennebeuf, a fibre optics specialist from Airbus’ Systems Engineering department, explained the issue at hand: “Before, if damage was found, the entire cable and surrounding harnesses needed to be removed so that the repair could be performed in a shop outside of the aircraft. This took 10 hours to do and in removing the harness, other cables and wiring could get damaged.”

She added: “One of the more common non-conformities concerns the contacts at the two ends of a cable. If the contacts were deficient, they had to be cleaned and polished or remanufactured at the shop floor laboratory.”

“Working with our supplier, AVOptic, we developed new, portable tools that re-polish the contacts,” explained fellow project co-leader Nadège Brunaud-Martinerie, an engineer from Airbus’ Manufacturing Engineering department. The process was introduced at Airbus facilities through special “awareness sessions.”

“Because they’re portable – and battery-powered – the new tools can be brought on board the aircraft and repairs made without disturbing the other installers,” she continued. “We use the same processes and get the same results and quality as before, but by not having to remove entire cables and harnesses, repair time is cut from 10 hours to two hours.”

5.“Smart glasses” show the future of Airbus’ innovative aircraft cabins

Airbus is providing immersive experiences with the company’s passenger cabins of tomorrow – leveraging “smart glasses” that integrate state-of-the-art 3D data technology for virtual, interactive tours of future aircraft interiors and their advanced functionalities.

“Visits” with smart glasses – developed by Airbus virtual reality experts together with the company’s cabin marketing team – already are proving to be a major success with customers during trips to Airbus facilities, as well as with trade show attendees.

At the heart of the smart glasses is a high-resolution smartphone, which features a special Airbus app. The smartphone is clipped to a headset and once the app is launched, the virtual reality experience can begin. By focusing on a specific point, the user decides where to go – choosing from different aircraft, first or business class, galley concepts and more.

Inside the virtual cabin, visitors can pull out galley units, take a closer look at the lavatory or zoom in on details. Additional apps offer the possibility to compare seat colours, mood lighting designs and other options. Move your head up, down, or to the side and your view moves along the virtual cabin wall accordingly.

While the customer is exploring the cabin, an Airbus representative can follow his or her path on a tablet. “This way, we can answer questions directly and point out differences between module versions, for example,” said Airbus’ Dieter Kasch, who last year – along with his virtual reality team – brought the smart glasses to maturity during a period of only three months.

Source : Airbus press

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Leonardo Unveils AW249 Next Generation Helicopter Makes International Debut

Leonardo Unveils AW249 Next Generation Helicopter Makes International Debut

The Italian Army has unveiled the new AW249 Fenice attack helicopter, declaring it a cornerstone of its transformation efforts, during its public debut at the prestigious Eurosatory defense show.

The AW249 is designed to meet the demanding needs of modern warfare, featuring a complete open architecture that allows for significant future growth and system adaptability. This flexibility ensures the helicopter can respond to evolving market requirements and remain at the forefront of military technology.

Features complete open architecture for future growth

Engineered for high performance, the AW249 boasts impressive speed, range, power margin, and payload capabilities. It excels in challenging Hot & High conditions and offers unparalleled manoeuvrability for nap-of-the-earth flight, allowing it to operate effectively in diverse and rugged terrains.

One of the helicopter’s key strengths is its ability to integrate fully and interoperate seamlessly within the modern multi-domain battlefield, encompassing air, land, sea, space, and cyber operations.

The AW249 features an advanced large area display human-machine interface, equipped with touch screen and gesture recognition devices within its tandem-seating cockpit. This sophisticated setup is complemented by a highly advanced Leonardo-developed Battle Management System.

The helicopter’s displays and modern pilot helmets provide the crew with rapid access to critical information on flight, navigation, and mission parameters, delivered through multiple sensors and advanced connectivity systems.

In terms of armament, the AW249 is equipped with a versatile weapon system. This includes guided and unguided 70mm rockets, air-to-air infrared guided missiles, and air-to-ground radio frequency or fibre optic guided missiles. Additionally, it is armed with a formidable 20mm three-barrel Gatling gun. With a maximum take-off weight of 8.3 tons, the AW249 is set to replace the Italian Army’s aging AW129 fleet.

Production contract expected soon; deliveries from 2027.

Since its maiden flight in the summer of 2022, four prototypes of the AW249 have been constructed. Currently, two prototypes are undergoing rigorous performance, system integration, and payload testing, while the remaining two are slated to begin testing shortly.

Leonardo anticipates finalizing the production contract soon, with deliveries to the Italian Army expected to commence in 2027.

Given its advanced capabilities and modern design, the AW249 will also be available on the export market, appealing to international customers seeking state-of-the-art military helicopter solutions.

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Pakistan’s Ambitious Plan to Acquire and Produce Chinese FC-31 Stealth Fighter

Pakistan’s Ambitious Plan to Acquire and Produce Chinese FC-31 Stealth Fighter

Pakistan is embarking on an ambitious endeavor to bolster its air defense capabilities with the acquisition and potential local production of the Chinese FC-31 stealth fighter jet.

Talks are reportedly underway between the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, the developer of the FC-31, signaling a significant leap forward for Pakistan’s military aviation prowess.

The FC-31, a mid-sized, twin-engine fifth-generation fighter, promises advanced air combat capabilities, including stealth technology that surpasses anything currently in the PAF‘s fleet. With plans to retire the JF-17 production line by 2030, the FC-31 could emerge as the new flagship aircraft, offering unmatched performance and versatility.

Experts speculate that Pakistan’s interest in the FC-31 could also signal broader implications for the international market. As China develops both land and carrier versions of the FC-31, analysts foresee it becoming a cost-effective alternative to pricier options like the F-35, potentially challenging the dominance of the US aerospace industry and reshaping global strategic rivalries.

Adding complexity to the deal is China’s push for the WS-13 engine, previously rejected for the JF-17 but now under consideration for both the FC-31 and future JF-17 variants. Engine standardization could streamline logistical and maintenance processes for the PAF, further enhancing the appeal of the FC-31.

While negotiations continue, the success of the FC-31 acquisition and local production hinges on several factors, including the outcome of the WS-13 engine discussions. Pakistan’s pursuit of the FC-31 comes amidst its eagerness to replace its aging fleet, with previous attempts to upgrade its F-16s by the United States due to geopolitical pressures.

Amidst these developments, Pakistan previous interest in the Turkish-made Kaan fifth-generation fighter underscores its eagerness to replace its aging fleet. Despite previous attempts to secure upgrades for its F-16s from the United States, Pakistan’s quest for advanced aerial capabilities has led it to explore alternative avenues, with the FC-31 emerging as a promising contender in its pursuit of air superiority.

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Airbus presents new Wingman concept at ILA Berlin Airshow

Airbus presents new Wingman concept at ILA Berlin Airshow

At the prestigious ILA aerospace trade show in Berlin, Airbus Defence and Space made waves by introducing its pioneering Wingman concept, marking a significant leap forward in military aviation technology.

Teaming up with Helsing, Europe’s leading defense AI and software company, Airbus showcased a framework cooperation agreement aimed at revolutionizing the realm of artificial intelligence (AI) in defense.

Airbus Wingman

The Wingman concept represents a paradigm shift in aerial warfare, introducing unmanned platforms equipped with advanced AI capabilities to augment the capabilities of manned combat aircraft. Pilots in command aircraft such as the Eurofighter command these autonomous drones, positioning them to undertake high-risk mission tasks that would traditionally pose a significant threat to manned-only aircraft.

Central to the Wingman concept is Manned-Unmanned Teaming, wherein manned aircraft serve as “command fighters,” retaining ultimate control over mission decisions while delegating tactical tasks to unmanned systems. This synergistic collaboration promises to enhance mission flexibility, increase combat mass, and minimize risk exposure for pilots, thereby bolstering overall operational effectiveness.

The capabilities of the Wingman extend across a diverse spectrum of mission profiles, ranging from reconnaissance and target jamming to precision strikes against both ground and aerial targets. Equipped with advanced sensors, connectivity solutions, and a diverse array of armaments, the Wingman stands poised to redefine the operational landscape of modern air forces.

While the Wingman model showcased at ILA Berlin represents the pinnacle of current technological innovation, it also serves as a catalyst for future design iterations. As with any pioneering concept, refinement and evolution are inevitable, with each generation of the Wingman poised to push the boundaries of aerial warfare even further.

MQ-28 Ghost Bat

Boeing introduced the MQ-28 Ghost Bat, an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), which made its maiden flight in February 2021. Developed by Boeing Australia, the MQ-28 leverages artificial intelligence to serve as a force multiplier for manned fighter jets.

The Ghost Bat is engineered to operate in tandem with existing military aircraft, enhancing and extending the capabilities of airborne missions. This cost-effective UCAV is designed to work as an intelligent teammate, complementing and amplifying the effectiveness of manned operations in various mission profiles.

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