Flight_International 28Jan2020

(Jacob Rumans) #1


flightglobal.com 28 January-3 February 2020 | Flight International | 13

A220 gains lift
under new
Air Transport P


fully automated A350-
take-off has been carried out
by Airbus using a vision-based
system that tracks the runway
centreline and rotates the aircraft
without side-stick input from
the pilot.
The initial departure with the
test system was carried out at
Toulouse on 18 December and the
crew of five made eight flights in
the course of around 4h 30min.
Image-recognition technology
was installed on the aircraft as
part of the airframer’s ATTOL
project to explore autonomous
taxiing, take-off and landing.

“We moved the throttle levers
to the take-off setting and we
monitored the aircraft,” says test
pilot Yann Beaufils.
He says the aircraft automati-
cally detected and tracked the
centreline before rotating to the
correct pitch at the airspeed
logged with the system.
“The aircraft performed as
expected during these milestone
tests,” he adds.
Airbus will continue to devel-
op the technology and plans to
conduct vision-based taxiing and
landing towards the middle of
this year.


Airbus trials fully automated take-off technology

The ATTOL project com-
menced about 18 months ago.
Airbus says that, while it is
looking into autonomous
technology, pilots “will remain

at the heart of operations” and
its intention is to examine the
degree to which autonomy can
be used to resolve “key industri-
al challenges”. ■

System can keep aircraft on the centreline without side-stick input



A380 makes way for A321 in Toulouse

Space vacated by axed double-decker will be used from mid-2022 to ease single-aisle family's production bottlenecks


irbus is to increase its A
production capability, by
converting its A380 facilities in
Toulouse to accommodate a
digitally-enabled A321 final
assembly line.
It will introduce production of
the A321 to Toulouse for the first
time – Airbus’s largest single-
aisle variant is currently built in
Hamburg Finkenwerder and
Mobile, Alabama.
The airframer says the change

  • to be in place by mid-2022 –
    will provide “more flexibility”
    for A321 production, although it
    adds that overall single-aisle
    industrial capacity at Toulouse
    will remain “flat”.
    Airbus’s A321neo has proven
    particularly popular, accounting
    for 3,255 orders – or 45% of all
    commitments for the re-engined
    A320neo family.
    But this has put pressure on
    the industrial system at Airbus
    owing to the introduction of new
    variants of the A321neo as its
    range has increased and carriers
    have requested configurations
    suitable for these longer-haul
    The latest of the variants, the

Mobile keeps moving upwards as part of global output increase

Production of the A320neo is to be
boosted by Airbus at its Mobile,
Alabama site to seven aircraft per
month in 2021, amid a US-
imposed import tax on European-
made commercial aircraft.
Airbus currently builds five
A320neos per month there and says
this will grow to six within weeks.
The airframer says its decision is
not based on the impact of US tar-
iffs – which do not yet cover parts
or aerostructures – but is simply to

help it achieve a global production
output of 63 A320neo-family
aircraft per month in 2021.
The increase at Mobile to seven
aircraft monthly will take effect “by
the beginning of next year”, it
says. “The increase, and contin-
ued recruitment for the A
manufacturing team, will result in a
further 275 jobs being added at
the Alabama-based facility over
the next year,” it adds.
As part of these efforts, Airbus

will spend $40 million to build
another support hangar in Mobile,
bringing its total investment at the
site to more than $1 billion.
Airbus delivered its first Mobile-
assembled A320 in 2016 and
began production of A220s there
last year.
It intends to assemble four
A220s per month at the site by the
mid-2020s, at which time its
combined A220 and A320 output
will hit 130 aircraft per year. ■


A321XLR, is due to become
available from 2023.
Airbus says it will use the
A380 Lagardere facility to install
a modernised A321 line, support-

ed by digital capabilities, as part
of its overhaul of production to
incorporate the latest technology.
Chief operating officer Michael
Schoellhorn says the measure

will “optimise industrial flow”
and increase production capacity
specifically for the A321 models.
Airbus says it has informed its
unions of the decision to place
the new line at Toulouse.
The French site was selected
for reasons of “overall competi-
tiveness”, cost of investment and
time to market, says Airbus, as
well as available space. The
company is winding down
assembly of its A380 at Toulouse,
following last year’s decision to
terminate production. ■

Largest narrowbody variant is currently built in Hamburg and USA
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