Five Things: Aerospace Manufacturing
1 // Airbus Automates Fuselage Assembly
Airbus has inaugurated a highly automated fuselage assembly line at its A320 factory in Hamburg, Germany. The new line features a digital data acquisition system, 20 robots, automated guided vehicles, and automated positioning by laser measurement.
At the start of the line, eight robots drill and countersink 1,100 to 2,400 holes per longitudinal joint. In the next step, 12 robots, each operating on seven axes, combine the center and aft fuselage sections with the tail to form one major component. The robots drill, countersink, seal and insert 3,000 rivets per orbital joint.
The fuselages are then equipped with electrical and mechanical systems before they are shipped to final assembly lines in France, Germany, China and the U.S.
2 // Spirit Signs Pledge to Workers
Spirit AeroSystems has committed to creating 33,500 education and training opportunities for American workers. During an event held at Wichita State University in October, Spirit’s president and CEO Tom Gentile signed the “White House Pledge to America’s Workers,” a presidential initiative to encourage companies and trade groups to expand programs that educate, train and reskill American workers. Since it began in July 2018, more than 300 organizations have signed the pledge, contributing to more than 12 million opportunities. Over next five years, Spirit pledged to create 33,500 opportunities for workers by investing in apprenticeships; paid internships; specialized on-the-job training for new technologies; and work-based learning programs.
3 // Boeing Opens New Assembly Plant for V-22
Boeing has opened a new assembly plant near Philadelphia to produce fuselages for the V-22 Osprey. It will also upgrade previously built aircraft to the new Block C configuration.
4 // Ascent Aerospace Invests in Additive Manufacturing
Ascent Aerospace has added a large-scale additive manufacturing machine to its factory in Santa Ana, CA. Ascent will use it to make layup molds; drilling fixtures; vacuum fixtures and other equipment. The machine can create fixtures from ABS, nylon and other materials.
5 // Piper Launches Apprenticeship Program
Piper Aircraft Inc. has started an apprenticeship program at its assembly plant in Vero Beach, FL. The first nine apprentices, who started work in August 2019, shadow skilled aircraft assembly workers and learn all aspects of fabrication and assembly of aircraft during the two-year program. Additionally, they attend technical classes and receive hands-on training designed to qualify them as journeymen in aircraft assembly. Each apprentice is a paid employee of Piper Aircraft and receives a full benefits package.