5th September 2016. The pressurized bulkhead for the first Beluga XL leaves the Latecoere Group workshops to join those of Stelia Aerospace, where it will be assembled. Looking back at a frenzied day after a summer that was….. very studious.
Beluga’s replacements are eagerly awaited to say the least! The new aircraft will provide a 30% increase in Airbus’s transport capacity between its different production sites and its final assembly lines in Toulouse, Hamburg and Seville. They’ll directly support the ramp-up in the A350 and A320neo programs.
“We’ve worked hand-in-hand with the Stelia Aerospace teams”, explains Latecoere program manager Valérie Boyer. Clear proof of this is the bulkhead’s manufacturing time: 1 year 5 months from design to delivery: a record! Cooperation also made the difference on an internal level. Right from the start, the design office involved the production teams in the cost-weight trade-offs. “The outcome”, adds Valérie Boyer, “was that this truly unique work area, with only 5 bulkheads so far ordered, found its place in the middle of the series production lines.” A way of highlighting the organization’s agility all the way to production.
Also there on this day was bulkhead design manager, Fabien Antoine, who had come to greet the different teams and see the baby! “I’ve never experienced such fast development. The straightforward, constructive dialog with Stelia Aerospace at design office or production level made all the difference. One shouldn’t underestimate the complexity of this system with its two frames: one for a door and the other for an equipment item. This bulkhead is the frontier between the pressurized living area and the hold. For example, there are 200 tensioning bolts to install, requiring extensive expertise since they connect heavily stressed areas under airborne conditions.”