European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is happy with how South African aeronautics company Aerosud has responded to the challenges posed by the A350XWB airliner programme. The local company manufactures small, but key, parts of the aircraft, known as frame clips and track cans.
"We're pretty focused on the A350 production ramp-up, and Aerosud is part of that," Airbus international cooperation VP Simon Ward told Engineering News Online at Africa Aerospace and Defence 2012 on Friday.
“The A350 is on a very, very tight schedule. Already, it has slipped once, by six months. So we now have to hit the deadlines, otherwise it'll affect the first delivery."
The frame clips are made from carbon-reinforced plastic, and are used to fasten longitudinal stringers to the fuselage outer skin panels. Most of the airframe of the A350 is manufactured from such composite materials. This use of new materials makes the project very challenging.
"Aerosud has had to confront a number of issues to maintain its schedule," reported Ward.
“They've had to deal with issues that are not of their own making, such as design changes from companies higher in the supply chain. Aerosud's people are under a lot of pressure, fighting hard,” Ward said, adding that the South Africans were working around the clock to keep to schedule.
“Aerosud has proved very proactive, very adaptable. We're happy with the results. Airbus recognizes that suppliers like Aerosud, right across the supply chain, are under a lot of pressure. And where we can, we help them."