Meeting Airline and Passenger expectations with technological innovations on board
Conference by Alain de Zotti, Chief Engineer Airbus A350 XWB Program
Authors: Vishal Patil & Irma Fubiani, FT18, Aerospace MBA
With a very pleasant and cheerful personality, Alain de Zotti took the charge of the stage after his formal introduction by event host. Dressed in business formals, Alain started describing success story of Airbus A350 XWB through his point of view.
Dividing whole concept with regards to aircraft into Cabin, Cockpit, Engines, Maintenance and Future, he emphasised that everything began from thinking about people who will be using this aircraft i.e Passengers, Engineers and maintenance staff. Their focus was on giving all users a very pleasant experience.
While talking about cabin, Alain pointed out that the journey began from designing the cabin depending upon the number of passengers and range of the aircraft Airbus is targeting. Finding a right structural balanced is the most important factor in designing the cabin. Few salient features of this new cabin are,
Flat Floor Concept – New IFE configuration allowed them to have the floor as flat and uniform as possible eliminating the obstructing and inconvenient IFE box on the floor below each seat.
Mood Lighting – with new and improved 16.7 million shades of colour
Quietest Twin Aisle – A350 XWB cabin is less noisy by 6 dB than B787 and by 9dB than B777.
Cabin Flexible Configuration – this flexibility has been achieved by relatively easy plug and play platform concept used in the cabin. Various different possibilities of cabin configuration were taken into consideration since the beginning of design of the aircraft.
In short, all the above-mentioned features along with vertical side walls and high ceiling makes this cabin a very pleasant experience for its users.
The Cockpit is quite similar to Airbus A380, except there are larger and multifunctional interconnected displays in A350 by which one can configure anything on any screen.
Apart from aesthetics of cockpit, there are many advancements in the systems, mainly for take-off and landing like take-off securing system and improved ROWPS (Runway Over-run Warning Protection System). Alain mentioned that in earlier days, if anything goes wrong mid-air, pilots used to disengage autopilot but in this aircraft, he advices to engage autopilot. Putting emphasise on robustness of autopilot, the system used in A350 can take care of the aircraft in most of the conditions. Hence, we can say, the cockpit is more sophisticated yet complex.
With integrated on-board maintenance system, it has become easier to maintain this aircraft. With Dispatch message system, computer analyses the problems and prioritise depending upon the criticality of the problems and sends the message.
E-operation network allows aircraft to be connected all the time to the ground and by new and advanced systems, aircraft generates and sends message to the ground about possible problem arise in flight, helping maintenance staff on ground to be prepared and rectify the problem quickly.
What is Next?
To answer this question, Alain mentioned few key factors like advancements in composite materials used for fuselage which allowed them to save weight up to 2 tons in last 1 year. New electrical structure network provides better EMI (Electro-magnetic Interference) protection. New bird like wings unable Airbus to produce more fuel economic aircraft structure. Engines manufactured by Rolls Royce are doing exceptional job.
The overall operational reliability was 98.4% last year and this year reliability at 99%, Airbus has already achieved this year’s target. Now Airbus is working on TTGF (Time to Get Fix). Alain personally thinks that there is a lot of scope for improvement in this area as currently average closure rate is at 12 months. Airbus is also claiming for higher rates at FAL (Final Assembly Line) considering the backlog of orders. Alain also mentioned about Airbus’s “AeroPakage 2020” while concluding his speech.
After brief Q & A session, the seminar came to an end with some desserts and Coffee. The USAIRE South West Chapter promised to meet again on 30th June with Annual Garonne Garden Party.