Monday 8 July 2013
Airbus A350 XWB
Airbus A350 XWB (copyright Airbus SAS)

Students reading for aerospace degrees at the University of Salford have been working with Airbus engineers to help with wing manufacturing issues for the company’s latest airliner, the A350 XWB (extra wide body).

The Master’s students have been involved in project groups to work on various engineering challenges set by Airbus engineers at their factory in Broughton, including working on a tool for the removal of incorrectly fitted lock bolts and developing prototype dowel pins.

Twenty two students took part in this year’s challenges which addressed problems and areas for improvement identified with the company by the University’s academics. The projects were based on aspects of the work carried out by Airbus – some current problems associated with the assembly of the A350 XWB wings, others based on features that are applicable across the whole range of wings – and each group was given two weeks to carry out background research before selecting their project at the beginning of the final semester in January of this year.

As a result the students presented their proposals at a meeting in June and the ideas have now been tested with recommendations presented for incorporating into the company’s working practices.

This is the first time students have worked on the production version of the A350 XWB model, which boasts wings built out of carbon fibre composites.  In the past, students have also conducted studies on projects associated with the double-decker A380 – the world’s largest passenger airliner.

Salford’s aeronautics department has steadily strengthened links with Airbus, with dozens of the courses’ graduates gaining jobs with the company or one of its major suppliers since the turn of the century.

Henry Waters, who was instrumental in creating the link with Airbus Broughton, said: “Our relationship with Airbus is extremely important in helping students gain experience during industrial placements as well as obtaining permanent employment after graduation. 

“We’re extremely grateful to Airbus for allowing our students access to their work, and we’re always very happy to see how much of an impact students can make on cutting edge projects at Europe’s largest aircraft manufacturer.”

The A350 XWB made its maiden flight on Friday 14 June and is expected to enter passenger service in two years' time at the end of the certification trials.