According to Airbus, an easy-to-use testing tool, known as the “Line Tool,” for inspecting the composite airframe of the aircraft manufacturer’s A350 XWB jetliner, has recently become highly sought after by “key airliners.” The company says many airline customers are ordering the device to support their daily operations. In total, Airbus has sold 70 of these systems to some major customers, including Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Finnair, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Vietnam Airlines.
The Line Tool is an ultrasound system which is used to inspect an A350 in the event of that catering trucks, baggage loaders or other vehicles make hard contact with an aircraft. The tool uses non-destructive testing (NDT) that allows damage assessments to be made without affecting the damaged fuselage or wing area. Airbus believes it is simple and cost-effective solution for on-site inspections, and can be utilized by airline personnel who are not experts in composite materials.
“The Line Tool delivers an automatic diagnosis, which means that airlines can carry out their own tests straight away,” explained Patrick Métayer, the head of non-destructive testing at Airbus.
Airbus originally launched the system before the A350 XWB entered service. The company uses carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) in more than 50 percent of the aircraft’s fuselage, wings and tail, providing the composite material’s benefits of lighter weight, as well as resistance to corrosion and fatigue.
Airbus wants to build on the commercial success of the composite line tool by developing a similar solution for more “classic” metallic airframes, which will be known as the “Clad Tool.” The Clad Tool is already is applied internally in Airbus final assembly line applications, and will be offered to customers beginning this summer.