Airbus Military - San Pablo
Airbus Military - San Pablo

A400M Automated Assembly with Leica Geosystems Laser Trackers

The Final Assembly Line at the Airbus Military facility in Seville, Spain, is the third largest aeronautical station in Europe after Toulouse and Hamburg and welcomes the final assembly and delivery of the A400M, the latest Airbus Military airplane.

Designed to a recognised requirement for a new airlifter for European air forces, the A400M incorporates state-of-the-art materials and technology that are being continuously perfected in today’s civil aircraft fleets.

The A400M or “grey giant” project is the biggest carbon fibre wings assembly project in the Airbus Group and is a major step for the future assembly project of the A350. Features such as electronic flight controls, carbon composite structures and an automated handling system will bring new standards of operability and safety to military aircrews. The 600 M Euros investment for the factory should see an annual production of 28 aircraft once the high output is achieved. The assembly of the A400M military aircraft is divided in different stations.

The first station is for the wings, putting together the central box produced in France and the outer wings provided from the Broughton, UK. The second station is in charge of the fuselage, composed from a German made centre-rear part and a French “nose”. The third and final station is for the complete assembly of the first two parts, along with the engine and tail plane, to complete the final aircraft. Whilst the three stations are in charge of assembling the different parts, they are also responsible for the installation of the fuel system, electrical system, hydraulic parts, air, etc… On completion of the assembly the A400M comes to a last testing station where more then 600 functional tests are carried out.

The final control will result in a special station where 50 to 100 points will be measured before and after test flights. The tender’s objectives of EADS A400M assembly project was simple: to find a flexible, automated, simple and quick solution to measure the whole spatial geometry of the airplane! The benchmark only concerned two laser tracker suppliers.

Salomon Benasuly, responsible of the measuring system for the fuselage assembly station remembers: “We did a lot of dual testing between the two brands, expecting to choose the best of them. Even if the first tracker was always within specification, the Leica Geosystems laser tracker reached much better accuracy – well within the ones they specify - and a better repeatability. Having also already a long and positive experience with the laser tracker and the services provided from Hexagon Metrology . . . . . .

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