May 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 1 
Industry Wrap

Airbus researchers mull all-composite fuselage

Airbus officials have publicly questioned Boeing's decision to create an all-new airplane from composite materials. But according to a recent report in Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, Airbus researchers are seeing a rapid growth in the application of composites on the consortium's aircraft.

According to the Aviation Week report, officials from Airbus' Nantes, France, production site said the firm expects that for "the 2010/2012-generation aircraft, Airbus is planning not only all-composite wings, but also an all-composite fuselage." The company hasn't said what aircraft it would build then.

Airbus officials are pondering what the composite content should be on the A350, the challenger to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Aviation Week story said. The A350 would use much of the technology Airbus is employing on the A380 super-jumbo, including carbon fiber reinforced plastics.

But according to the Aviation Week article, Airbus officials note that metal makers are cost-competitive, so use of their material remains attractive.

For the A350, composites could make up as much as 50 percent of the aircraft, Benoit Jolivel, a representative from Airbus' methods department in Nantes, said at a composites forum in that city. However, according to Aviation Week, he also said that many decisions about the A350 remain to be made and there are no specifics, yet, on where the new aircraft may employ composites where the A380 has not. Clearly, he added, the trend is to expand use of composites.


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