Monday, 2 April 2012

ATPS Visits Airbus

The Manchester branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society travelled to Broughton, the home of the Airbus wing factory. Four ATPS students, including myself, were a part of the group that made the short journey into Wales. 

It's said that an Airbus A320 family aircraft takes off or lands somewhere in the world, every 3 seconds. A staggering and impressive figure. Especially when you consider Airbus also produce the A330 and A380. It's even more impressive when you consider that every single set of Airbus wings flying round the world today, were made in Broughton. 

Just over the welsh border near Chester lies Hawarden Airfield. The traffic in and out of this aerodrome is varied. Piper and Cessna aircraft from the resident flying schools, the odd business jet and of course; the Airbus A300-600ST Beluga. The daily, unusual visitor is loaded with a special cargo before being flown to several destinations around Europe. That cargo is Airbus wings.

The tour was initially taken to a boardroom for the normal housekeeping brief before receiving an interesting presentation by a member of Airbus Broughton staff on Airbus' history, current operation and also plans and ambitions for future growth and where they see themselves within the market.

The group was then issued with PPE before being led into the single aisle factory. The A380 facility was located on the other side of the airfield and logistically difficult to visit. That would have to wait for another day. The factory floor was as expected. Coloured lines and signs on the floor directing pedestrians around the building, busy staff both young and old milling around and of course, noise.

We were walked along the entire production line from component construction right through to final wing assembly including the installation of flaps, slats, spoilers and other equipment. It was definitely an exciting and engaging experience to witness a set of wings taking shape from mere components to become a final painted, functioning product ready for delivery to the final assembly line at either Toulouse, Hamburg or even Tianjin.

I would like to thank the Royal Aeronautical Society for making the visit possible.

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