Composite Wing Research

The UK has designed and built the wings for the Airbus A380 at two sites in the UK, Filton, near Bristol and Broughton, North Wales. The West Factory at Broughton is huge, equivalent to 12 full size football pitches.

Although Airbus wings have been made at Broughton for some time and the breathtaking logistics of transporting wings and structures by air and sea for final assembly in Toulouse has passed into legend, Filton has become the centre for composite wing research and design. They manage both the A380 wing and A380 landing gear components.

Filton is the main rib manufacturing facility where 40 of the 124 composite wing ribs in an A380 wing-set are manufactured. Broughton North Wales is the first destination for these components, 32,000 in total, which comprise a set of A380 wings. It’s at Broughton that these components and sub-assemblies are assembled into a complete wingbox. The leading edge on an A380 wing is 45 metres long. Also added to the wing assembly at this location are fuel, pneumatic and hydraulic systems and wiring. The importance of next generation composite wing research to Wales is key to strategists and Trade Associations with the brief to promote Wales as an Aerospace Centre of Excellence. Also located in Wales are companies like Cytec high performance prepregs who work with composites and high temperature sealants. Cytec’s materials can be found in both primary and secondary structures, interiors, engines and nacelles. High-performance prepregs and structural composites provide high-temperature performance, corrosion resistance and damage tolerance and are inherently lightweight structures.

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