Inaugurated Oct. 1, Airbus’ new structural assembly line for A320-family fuselage brings a step change in automation.
Joining fuselage sections involves circular drilling, which is now performed by Kuka robots with seven degrees of freedom—six for rotation and one for translation.
For longitudinal joints, Airbus has introduced Flextrack robots that can move along a rail installed on the fuselage.
At the beginning of the fuselage’s structural assembly process, a monorail system carries shells.
The new line was devised in particular for the A321neo-LR, as the rear fuselage section has a new design.
Airbus uses virtual reality to design digital tools and train workers to use them.
Mechanics are still required to maneuver into some uncomfortable positions, but the new structural assembly line has made that less frequent.
The new fuselage structural assembly line brings increased productivity and quality, according to Airbus Chief Operating Officer Michael Schoellhorn.
Struggling with the A320-family production ramp up and A321 delivery delays, Airbus is betting on robots to smooth production.
Thierry Dubois covers French aerospace for Aviation Week & Space Technology.
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