EADS Innovation Works’ development tools are applied to A350 XWB development and production

9 June 2011

Three development tools from EADS Innovation Works are helping bring the new A350 XWB jetliner to reality, underscoring the ability of EADS’ corporate research centre network to serve specific programme needs when external suppliers are unable to meet tight milestones.

These three tools are EADS Innovation Works’ NDT-KIT®, a personal computer-based software platform for the non-destructive testing diagnosis of composite parts with automated data processing; Smart NDT Tools, which are mobile and versatile devices designed like computer USB peripherals for complex non-destructive testing applications; and the REHA virtual reality software platform for program development and production.

They have been employed across Airbus’ internal industrial network as the company moves the composites-intensive A350 XWB jetliner into production and prepares for its future service introduction.

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The Smart NDT Tools bring an “all in one” approach with common interface to non-destructive testing for composite aircraft.

“With these three tools, EADS Innovation Works has shown its ability to become a product supplier for EADS divisions when outside companies could not meet the requirements or timing on demanding programmes such as the A350 XWB,” explained Yann Barbaux, the Director of EADS Innovation Works. “Not only did our teams provide much-needed solutions, they developed products that are highly competitive and offer the reliability and features of products from some of the world’s top suppliers in their fields.”

EADS Innovation Works has created the Smart NDT Tools as a game-changing concept that brings an “all in one” approach and common interface to non-destructive testing for composite aircraft. They are being utilised at all Airbus facilities involved in composites manufacturing and assembly, providing a highly effective, low-cost system based on reconfigurable peripheral units that are driven and powered via a USB link with any personal computer.

By replacing six to eight individual non-destructive testing devices, Smart NDT Tools cover the large majority of aerospace testing needs during airframe manufacturing, as well as for maintenance and support once an aircraft is in operational service. Through the application of automated techniques, the time required in system setup, diagnosis and reporting – which could represent more than 60 percent of the total time involved in testing – can be reduced with Smart NDT Tools, which also were designed from the start use by personnel who not are experts in non-destructive testing techniques.

As a result, Smart NDT Tools not only are tailored for the internal production needs at such EADS divisions as Airbus and Eurocopter, they provide highly-capable non-destructive testing solutions that can be used by these companies’ customers and operators as well.

NDT Kit® from EADS Innovation Works uses innovative software for non-destructive testing data analysis and automatic diagnosis for composites. This post-processing platform – which is compatible with most ultrasonic inspection systems within EADS and its divisions – was developed to meet the company’s needs to reduce production cycles and cost, and provides advanced tools for quality assurance with composite materials.

Deployed at all Airbus plants involved in composites activity with A350 XWB, key features of NDT Kit® include defect detection and measurements, drilling analyses and impact characterization.

The third development tool from EADS Innovation Works is RHEA (Realistic Human Ergonomic Analysis), which is bringing a new level of virtual reality to development and production at Airbus with the A350 XWB, as well as at facilities of EADS’ Eurocopter and Astrium divisions.

RHEA results from more than a decade of EADS work in creating virtual 3D environments that enable engineers to interact with the computer-generated mock-ups that increasingly are used in the aerospace and defence sectors. With RHEA, operators can “enter” and interact with a full-scale 3D digital model by wearing special goggles, helmet-mounted displays, or even as an avatar artificial figure with human dimensions.

Following RHEA’s successful use at Eurocopter, the software was put into service by Airbus in preparing the A350 XWB’s design and development, where it is used at the Toulouse and St. Nazaire plants in France, as well as Hamburg, Germany. The successful deployment of RHEA’s virtual reality world has since been further expanded with its application at St. Nazaire to help train production workers who are moving the A350 XWB into production.