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2005 FIN – Million Fastener Jumbo Jet Unveiled

2005 FIN – Million Fastener Jumbo Jet Unveiled
October 04
00:00 2012


January 25, 2005 FIN – Airbus unveiled the A380, the largest and heaviest airliner ever built. The aircraft is assembled using one million aluminum rivets and other fasteners supplied by Alcoa Fastening Systems.
According to the New York Times, the A380 will carry as many as 800 passengers on two decks, eclipsing the Boeing 747. The craft will weigh more than 1.2 million pounds fully loaded, and stretches about 260 feet from wingtip to wingtip. The A380 has an 8,000-mile range.

The A380 was introduced at a celebration in France, with European leaders, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac, in attendance.
According to AFS CEO Olivier Jarrault, Alcoa designed several propriety fasteners for the A380, including the XPL Lockbolt Fastening System to tie composite and metallic parts together in the A380 center wing box. The XPL is an extended performance lockbolt with a titanium collar strong enough to handle the wings’ great size. Each wing is 119 feet from tip to fuselage and is designed to carry almost 41,000 gallons of fuel along with landing gear.

According to the Times, a three-story-high automated robotic riveting machine, the first of its kind, attaches the wing skins to a row of ribs made of composites and metals. More than 750,000 fasteners hold the skins to the frame. Any difficult-to-reach spots are riveted by hand.

The A380 contract prompted AFS to begin hiring 250 workers to boost production at its plants in Southern California.

Eleven airlines, including Singapore, Korean Air, Lufthansa and Air France, plus cargo carriers FedEx and UPS, have ordered 149 planes at $250 million apiece, the Times reports. Flight tests will commence this year, and the first commercial flight of the A380 is expected in the second quarter of 2006, with Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) a likely destination.

Airbus mobilized 18,000 suppliers in 30 countries to build the A380. Thousands of A380 parts crisscross the globe daily en route to factories in Europe. Plants in Britain assemble the wings, workers in Germany build the fuselage, and these major sections are then shipped to Toulouse, France, for final assembly. More than 100,000 people in the U.S. alone are involved in getting the A380 aloft.

But the A380’s size is proving difficult for many airports to handle. The new plane is so much larger than any other craft that most airports will have to make design changes to accommodate it.

Six airlines plan to put LAX on their first flight routes for the A380. Experts worry that if major airports are slow to support the new plane, airlines may hesitate to buy more A380s. Airbus says it needs to sell 250 planes to break even; some analysts believe the company must sell 325 to cover its investment. ©2005/2012 Fastener Industry News
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