Strength in numbers
The A350 XWB results from a team effort leveraging the creativity, imagination and expertise of Airbus, its supplier network and customers around the globe.
Collaboration has been at the heart of Airbus innovation throughout the company’s 40-plus-year history, and this spirit has taken a major step forward on the A350 XWB – which is a new-generation jetliner designed with the market, for the market.
Airbus’ A350 XWB teams
Links within Airbus' own teams have been further reinforced for the A350 XWB, with harmonised sets of design and engineering tools – along with common processes – shared across the company.
Not only were these tools particularly important for the aircraft’s design and development phases, they will serve as a key element in the subsequent production rate ramp-up – which is to be more rapid than on previous programmes.
Airbus is fully benefiting from the expertise of its own industrial network on the A350 XWB programme, having applied capabilities of the four primary European nations to which the company owes its existence: France, Germany, Spain and the UK – with horizons also expanded to reach a global scale.
As a result, the A350 XWB has the pedigree as a true “citizen of the world,” taking advantage of the contributions from Airbus’ extended teams working in the United States, China, Russia and India.
To deliver on the A350 XWB’s promise of shaping future airline travel, Airbus has provided certain suppliers a stronger and more integrated involvement in the aircraft's development, production and support.
During a four-year period from 2008 to 2011, Airbus defined and deployed its A350 XWB collaborative framework – which has been continually refined to improve cooperation as the programme moves into the next phases.
As its suppliers work in close coordination with Airbus, there is a better understanding of each other’s capabilities, needs and values – supported by their use of the same tools, processes, methods and planning.
The increased use of composites in the A350 XWB also led to the selection of new and innovative Airbus suppliers, which join a wide range of companies that are located across the globe.
Airbus customers had a strong role in A350 XWB development through a comprehensive review and feedback process.
Customer involvement in new aircraft development has always been important at Airbus, taking into account the needs of airline operators with different operating scenarios, fleet sizes, network diversities and cultures. For the A350 XWB, this process was more even comprehensive – with the largest, most varied group of participants involved in the review and feedback process, including airlines that are not traditional Airbus operators.
A total of 25 customer focus groups were created to cover A350 XWB subjects ranging from airport operations to flight deck design, with these groups providing their views to be considered by Airbus as it finalised the jetliner’s configuration.
The customer influence is reflected in numerous A350 XWB design aspects, including improvements to the onboard rest areas for crew members, in a new configuration of the passenger cabin’s rear galley area, and for an enhancement to the cockpit’s flight management system to enable an increased capacity with navigation waypoints.
Building a winning jetliner together
To produce an aircraft as evolutionary as the A350 XWB, Airbus is applying its expertise and know-how as a leading aircraft manufacturer.
A350 XWB programme partners work together in a collaborative environment. This arrangement – which is built on the sharing of harmonised methods, tools and processes – was designed to meet Airbus’ goals of a shorter development time, rapid production rate acceleration and a high level of aircraft maturity at service entry.
Such an approach is vital in today's environment, when meeting programme schedules and responding to the market's changing requirements are more important than ever.
Collaboration has always been in the “Airbus DNA.”
In building on the relationships with its partners, the company has given certain suppliers even more integrated involvement in the A350 XWB's development and production. This involves the awarding of comprehensive and integrated work packages to these suppliers, along with their earlier selection in the aircraft’s concept and development phase.
The relationship is supported by a strong spirit of collaboration, which includes the co-location of joint teams at “plateau” locations within Airbus facilities, Airbus-provided training for supplier personnel, as well as the deployment of the company’s representatives to key supplier locations.
Also reflecting this emphasis on collaboration is Airbus’ new approach for faster and easier cabin definition, called the Cabin Definition Centre. This tool supports the customization process between Airbus, suppliers and airlines, and allows airlines to test catalogue products and define a cabin to their specific needs.