In constructing its new A380 model, the European Airbus consortium (Toulouse, France) is maximizing the airplane's performance and incorporating efficient manufacturing techniques to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace. To this end, Airbus is using titanium MaxiBolt Plus blind bolts from Textron Fastening Systems (Troy, MI) in a number of wing and fuselage assemblies.
To save weight in the airplane's tail, MaxiBolts are replacing the stainless steel bolts originally specified for the design. In all, nearly 9,000 of these bolts will be applied to each carbon fiber vertical tail plane section, with a resulting weight savings of 18.7 pounds. Tail plane assembly is being performed at the Airbus Deutschland Stade plant in Germany.
MaxiBolts are also being used to attach the injection-molded "J-nose" portions of the assemblies that join the wings to the fuselage, and to a set of auxiliary airfoils that are attached to the wings themselves. The J-nose subassemblies are being built and attached at the Stork Fokker Special Products plant in the Netherlands. The wing slat assemblies are being installed at the Sonaca plant in Belgium.
In addition to being strong, light and compatible with the composite materials found in the wing assemblies, the different sized fasteners used for the Airbus project will all be installed with one pulling head, thanks to a common groove in the pulling section of the bolts. This will help cut costs for Airbus and its supplier plants and service centers. The bolts install in about 2 seconds using standard hand tools, or automated or robotic processes. Bolts lock positively and break flush to the material with no deburring required. Each bolt has a 7-degree backside slope capability.
The bolts have a large-diameter footprint that distributes bearing load over a wide area of the blind side of the composite and metallic workpieces. This disperses stress on the joint, which prevents stripping or tearing the composite material while reducing the need for additional fasteners.
Scheduled to enter service in 2006, the A380 is being billed as the "largest, most advance and efficient" airliner in the world. Capable of carrying 555 passengers on two separate decks, the plane will also be fuel efficient while capable of carrying a 150-ton payload.
For more information on blind fasteners, call 800-544-6117 or visit www.textronfasteningsystems.com.