The first cutting of metal for the Airbus A320neo has taken place in Toulouse.
Marking the start of manufacturing of the airliner, machining began on July 8 of the first engine-pylon component at the Saint-Eloi Airbus pylon and nacelle factory in Toulouse.
Pylons are structures which hold the engine to the wing. The new pylon for the Airbus A320neo retains high commonality with the existing A320’s pylon design, while also incorporating more titanium as well as some advanced architectures developed for the A380 pylon.
In addition, the new component also features an advanced ‘aft-pylon-fairing’ concept specifically tailored for the Airbus A320neo’s more fuel-efficient Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100G or CFM International LEAP-1A engines.
“This first metal cut of the engine pylon component for the A320neo heralds the completion of the design phase and start of production for the world’s fastest selling airliner,” says Tom Williams, executive vice president of Programs at Airbus. “We are excited to be already starting manufacture of the world most eco-efficient single-aisle airliner today.”
The Airbus Saint-Eloi site specializes in the design, manufacturing, assembly, equipping and testing of engine pylons and design and manufacturing of titanium nacelle parts for all the aircraft in the Airbus family.
Featuring the latest ‘moving-line’ lean-production concept, the facility is also the leading European center for hard-metals machining and transformation, including titanium, according to Airbus.
The A320neo ‘new engine option’ for the A320 family will enter into service from late 2015. It incorporates latest generation engines and large Sharklet wing-tip devices, which together with the new engines will deliver up to 15 per cent in fuel savings over today’s A320, according to Airbus.
With more than 1,400 firm orders since its launch in December 2010, the A320neo family has proven to be the fastest-selling commercial-aircraft program ever.
Boeing responded last summer with the 737 MAX, which the U.S. manufacturer says has garnered commitments for well over 1,000 aircraft, though – just in advance of the Farnborough International Airshow 2012 – the customers for most of them have yet to be announced.