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New Technical Insights Into A380 Delay?  
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 6434 times:

I just found a new description of some of the technical reasons behind the production delays that have afflected Airbus' A380 in yesterday's International Herald Tribune.

The article in general is a description of the recent crisis at Airbus and its parent, EADS and reviews by-now well-trodden ground concerning various instances of finger-pointing concerning the issue of the latest delay.

Toward the end of the piece, however, it is claimed that the initial six-month delay, as well as the current one, was attributable to problems relating to wiring harnesses from assemblies shipped from Airbus' facilities in Hamburg, Germany that could not be properly threaded at Toulouse, France. The article states that at the time, it was believed by some that the problems would pass.

Quote:
However, the Airbus announcement on June 13 of a fresh delay of another six or seven months sent EADS fortunes reeling. According to an Airbus executive, the wiring had become "even worse," and fuselage sections from Hamburg could not be mated with other fuselage parts when they arrived in Toulouse.

"Why hasn't someone got this right in the last year?" the Airbus executive said. "I don't know."

In the above, I note that the article apparently cites instances wherein there were mismatches relating to not only wiring harneses, but also fuselage sections. Until I read the article, I had not known that this could have been factor in A380's production difficulties.

Source:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/06/26/business/airbus.php

[Edited 2006-06-27 09:13:18]

40 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAstuteman From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 9999 posts, RR: 96
Reply 1, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6375 times:
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Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
I note that the article apparently cites instances wherein there were mismatches relating to not only wiring harneses, but also fuselage sections. Until I read the article, I had not known that this could have been factor in A380's production difficulties.

I have to say that I didn't read anything into the article that suggested structural mismatches to me, and given development work that our Production Engineering team have done with both Military aircraft at Warton, and Airbus at Broughton, developing micronically accurate electronic alignment processes (which we use for "pre-installing" modules and weapons systems), I'd be astonished if that were the case (although anything's possible, of course).

(same systems are being developed for JSF assembly, and have been extremely successful on the first prototype)

FWIW, we have had design issues relating to cable harnessing (or NOT cable harnessing (correctly)) on Astute that have rendered the first-of-class build near-on impossible for a period of time, specifically by preventing/delaying the join-up of two sections of pressure hull.
I find it easy to visualise the circumstances at the A380 final assembly site when the cabling solution delivered to them is not in accordance with the Build Strategy, whatever the reason  banghead .
That situation was certainly a contributory factor in the delay to our programme of 3 years (but not the only one).

Good article. Thanks

Regards


User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6347 times:

You're quite welcome, Astuteman.

It surprised me, as well, to read that almost throwaway line about the alleged fuselage mismatches. Perhaps time will tell if there were physical structural incompatibilities the author could have been referring to, or whether the phraseology was simply a nontechnical use of words that was actually meant to describe nothing more than harness-related problems.


User currently offlineAstuteman From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 9999 posts, RR: 96
Reply 3, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6292 times:
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Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 2):
Perhaps time will tell if there were physical structural incompatibilities the author could have been referring to

It's not impossible of course, but if true, IMO would be utterly unforgiveable, in this day and age, with the technologies available.

Regards


User currently offlineAstuteman From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 9999 posts, RR: 96
Reply 4, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 6256 times:
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Quote "According to an Airbus executive, the wiring had become "even worse," and fuselage sections from Hamburg could not be mated with other fuselage parts when they arrived in Toulouse".

FWIW, AerospaceFan, if this is the sentence that's caught your eye, I'm pretty sure it alludes to fuselage parts that can't be mated "because of the wiring issue".
As I said, we've experienced a near identical problem on the FOC Astute class submarine, which delayed a section join-up for a large amount of time, in no way related to structural issues.

Regards


User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 6247 times:

Now that you've explained it, perhaps it is more likely than not that the meaning of the excerpted quote could have been,

[Modified by insertion of bolded text to present possible meaning:]

Quote:
However, the Airbus announcement on June 13 of a fresh delay of another six or seven months sent EADS fortunes reeling. According to an Airbus executive, the wiring had become "even worse," and, for this reason, fuselage sections from Hamburg could not be mated with other fuselage parts when they arrived in Toulouse.

I appreciate your explaining your experience with wiring harnesses and the problems they can cause.


User currently offlineKhenleydia From Sweden, joined Feb 2005, 426 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 6075 times:

Due to my lack of understanding and the vague information available, why is only ONE plane not effected by this when they have multiple already flying???

KhenleyDIA



Why sit at home and do nothing when you can travel the world.
User currently offlineScouseflyer From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2006, 3386 posts, RR: 9
Reply 7, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 6059 times:

Quoting Khenleydia (Reply 6):
Due to my lack of understanding and the vague information available, why is only ONE plane not effected by this when they have multiple already flying???

Because when any sort of production line is started - the first few copies are basically hand-built with the production being ramped up by introducing more and more automation into the process. In the ramp up the sections of A380 will be delivered with the wiring already installed to reduce the hand-building the sections being delivered are not in a state to be mated up without work being done again - hence the delays.


User currently offlineEatmybologna From France, joined Apr 2005, 412 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 6007 times:

I recall watching an A380 television special on the Discovery Channel where the first Hamburg rear fuselage section did not mate with the adjacent fuselage section in Toulouse. Apparently, the German section was discovered to be 6mm too wide. The Toulouse assemblymen/mechanics then took out their Dyna-files (pneumaticly driven abrasive devices) and went to work to thin down the areas over tolerance. The video did not show the actual modification, however, I assumed it worked as the next video clip showed the two sections joined.

You would think that this situation would have been resolved by now. Unless perhaps, Hamburg had already fabricated multiple sections and didn't want to scrap them.

E-M-B

[Edited 2006-06-27 14:03:20]


Isn't knowledge more than just the acquisition of information? Shouldn't the acquired information be correct?
User currently offlineOldAeroGuy From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 3500 posts, RR: 66
Reply 9, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 5967 times:

Quoting AerospaceFan (Thread starter):
Toward the end of the piece, however, it is claimed that the initial six-month delay, as well as the current one, was attributable to problems relating to wiring harnesses from assemblies shipped from Airbus' facilities in Hamburg, Germany that could not be properly threaded at Toulouse, France.

While passenger unique wiring (the official reason for both six month delays) may contribute to this problem, it sounds like the wiring issue is more fundamental.



Airplane design is easy, the difficulty is getting them to fly - Barnes Wallis
User currently offlineRevelation From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 12422 posts, RR: 25
Reply 10, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 5912 times:

Quoting Astuteman (Reply 4):
FWIW, AerospaceFan, if this is the sentence that's caught your eye, I'm pretty sure it alludes to fuselage parts that can't be mated "because of the wiring issue".



Quoting OldAeroGuy (Reply 9):
While passenger unique wiring (the official reason for both six month delays) may contribute to this problem, it sounds like the wiring issue is more fundamental.

It seem there are delays in both the design and fabrication of the wiring harnesses, and due to the wild imaginations of the customers, the resulting wiring harnesses do not fit into the space allocated to them, thus requiring rework of the wiring harnesses or of the airplane itself.



Inspiration, move me brightly!
User currently offlineRheinbote From Germany, joined May 2006, 1968 posts, RR: 52
Reply 11, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 5840 times:

Quoting OldAeroGuy (Reply 9):
While passenger unique wiring (the official reason for both six month delays) may contribute to this problem, it sounds like the wiring issue is more fundamental.

Doesn't take a scientist to imagine:

case0 wiring up to correct wiring spec
case1 wiring not up to correct wiring spec
case2 wiring up to wiring spec but wiring spec is faulty or outdated
case3 wiring not up to wiring spec which is faulty anyway

now add another dimension in the form of the structure and systems specs, on which the wiring spec is based. Structure and systems specs may further evolve during testing...so case0 may turn into case2 overnight

and yet another dimension: any part involved has to be in the right spot at the right time...


User currently offlineDougloid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 5709 times:

What it points to is the evils of out of position work.
Generally speaking the wiring harnesses are made up on jigs or breadboards and they're built to a customer specified configuration and installed in the hull sections. When the hull is actually assembled the wiring harnesses are connected with Cannon plugs and if everything's been done properly, the lights go on.

However if the configuration changes after the customer specified configuration product is installed or if the airplane got moved on the line to get a progress payment before it was ready (which Douglas did every once in a while when they needed cash), what that created was "out of position" work. What it meant was that people who do not normally work in that area are required to complete their jobs oftentimes after other components have been installed that make it much more difficult to do the job and inspect it.

Assuming that there were major configuration changes (either customer driven or manufacturer/component manufacturer driven) to the wiring bundles after they were fabricated and installed, that could create a huge problem and significant delays.

My sympathies are for the worker bees here, as they're the ones who are now under the gun...but LOTS of overtime, which is good for them.

Quoting Rheinbote (Reply 11):
case0 wiring up to correct wiring spec
case1 wiring not up to correct wiring spec
case2 wiring up to wiring spec but wiring spec is faulty or outdated
case3 wiring not up to wiring spec which is faulty anyway

This is a gross oversimplification of what Airbus is up against. The main wiring bundle on the MD11 was 8-10 inches in diameter and I imagine the A380 bundles are monsters.


User currently offlineKhobar From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 2379 posts, RR: 4
Reply 13, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 5672 times:

Could someone explain this "customer specification" with regards to the wiring? What wiring is up to the customer to spec? What would an airline know about wiring that would make them the authority over, say, the IFE manufacturer(s)?

User currently offlineAstuteman From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 9999 posts, RR: 96
Reply 14, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 5506 times:
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Quoting Dougloid (Reply 12):
What it points to is the evils of out of position work.

Absolutely spot on, Dougloid  checkmark 

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 12):
The main wiring bundle on the MD11 was 8-10 inches in diameter and I imagine the A380 bundles are monsters.

Spot on again. I've never seen the wiring on the A380, but anyone on here with images of domestic wiring in their mind will be way off mark.
If this stuff has to be hard-wired through the plane, instead of harnesses being connected at section join-ups, it'll devastate the final assembly durations.

Hell, the bigger cables may even have minimum bend radii measured in metres.
Running that in the closed confines of a fuselage can't be funny.

Great post, Dougloid.

Regards


User currently offlineDougloid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 5476 times:

Quoting Astuteman (Reply 14):
Hell, the bigger cables may even have minimum bend radii measured in metres.
Running that in the closed confines of a fuselage can't be funny.

I've done my share of wiring inspections. There's a door on the front bulkhead of the nose gear bay of the MD11 that takes you past the main bundles and on into the avionics bay in the nose.
When the wiring gets stretched it sometimes tears the teflon insulation inside the bundle and you get what are called 'shiners'. It's common to add spares to any bundle so that these problems can be repaired in the field without running fresh wire.

Amazing what people will drop in there
I've a nice pair of Wiss scissors I found in one of them.


User currently offlineOkelleynyc From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 219 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 5432 times:

Well here's another rumored reason for possible future delays:

I'm hesitant to post this since there are no corroborating sources, but here it is....

Cracks in the fuselage...

http://uk.biz.yahoo.com/060627/323/gfgtd.html



Just give me my Vario, my Ozone Mojo and a gorgeous day of soaring.
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 5402 times:

I hope that any allegations of cracks in the fuselage are untrue. In any event, certification would appear to be a separate issue. Nothing I have read suggests that anyone at Airbus is in trouble regarding certification.

I think, at this time, that we should take the report with a large grain of salt.

[Edited 2006-06-27 19:46:10]

User currently offlineEisman From Canada, joined May 2006, 18 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 5376 times:

I've read another post that the 380 is using aluminum wiring. Could this complicate an already difficult job?

User currently offlinePicard From United Kingdom, joined May 2006, 85 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 5363 times:

Quoting Astuteman (Reply 4):
Quote "According to an Airbus executive, the wiring had become "even worse," and fuselage sections from Hamburg could not be mated with other fuselage parts when they arrived in Toulouse".

FWIW, AerospaceFan, if this is the sentence that's caught your eye, I'm pretty sure it alludes to fuselage parts that can't be mated "because of the wiring issue".
As I said, we've experienced a near identical problem on the FOC Astute class submarine, which delayed a section join-up for a large amount of time, in no way related to structural issues.

Regards

I agree, if it was really fuselage sections that could not be mated together then how have a large number of them assembled and flying. Because of the experience of the numbers built already large component tolerances should be spot on by now.


User currently offlineAstuteman From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 9999 posts, RR: 96
Reply 20, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 5267 times:
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Quoting Eisman (Reply 18):
I've read another post that the 380 is using aluminum wiring. Could this complicate an already difficult job?

I'm not an electrical expert, but I've had plenty of conversations with harness manufacturers from a Build Strategy/Production Engineering viewpoint.

Added to comments from knowledgeable people on this site, I would say that aluminium wiring complicates things by an order of magnitude.

Others may wish to comment.

Regards


User currently offlineRuscoe From Australia, joined Aug 1999, 1557 posts, RR: 2
Reply 21, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 5237 times:

I still find it incredible for this alone to result in not just delays but decreased production rates for several years. I certainly don't think customer requirements alone can be blamed.

Trying to put all of the small snippets of information to-gether, I think the most likely scenario with regards to wiring, and the fundamenal problem underlying all this, is the change to aluminium wiring to save weight.

I am no electrical engineer but it has been posted elsewhere that you need a much thicker Al wire to carry the same current as a Cu wire.

My thought is that someone forgot to redesign the various fuselage components, to accommodate the extra diameter of the wiring bundles.
I could see it taking a lot of time to sort out, to redesign a large number of small fuselage components, larger holes in frames, larger clips etc, especially when weight is such a critical issue.

I can't see the crack being a problem because if it appeared after the equivalent of 6 years service, there is plenty of time to come up with a fix.

Ruscoe


User currently offlineAstuteman From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 9999 posts, RR: 96
Reply 22, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 5208 times:
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Quoting Ruscoe (Reply 21):
My thought is that someone forgot to redesign the various fuselage components, to accommodate the extra diameter of the wiring bundles.
I could see it taking a lot of time to sort out, to redesign a large number of small fuselage components, larger holes in frames, larger clips etc, especially when weight is such a critical issue.

I have to agree, Ruscoe, that it's a very plausible chain of events.

Question - what solution do the 5 aircraft currently flying have?

Regards


User currently offlineDougloid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 5147 times:

Quoting Ruscoe (Reply 21):
Trying to put all of the small snippets of information to-gether, I think the most likely scenario with regards to wiring, and the fundamenal problem underlying all this, is the change to aluminium wiring to save weight.

I am no electrical engineer but it has been posted elsewhere that you need a much thicker Al wire to carry the same current as a Cu wire.

Not to mention the problems you're going to have down the road when the aluminum starts to oxidize....as anyone with any experience in residential wiring knows about...


User currently offlineZvezda From Lithuania, joined Aug 2004, 10511 posts, RR: 64
Reply 24, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 4776 times:

Quoting Astuteman (Reply 14):
Spot on again. I've never seen the wiring on the A380, but anyone on here with images of domestic wiring in their mind will be way off mark.
If this stuff has to be hard-wired through the plane, instead of harnesses being connected at section join-ups, it'll devastate the final assembly durations.

Hell, the bigger cables may even have minimum bend radii measured in metres.
Running that in the closed confines of a fuselage can't be funny.

This is exactly why I'm concerned about the possibility of further delays.

Quoting Eisman (Reply 18):
I've read another post that the 380 is using aluminum wiring. Could this complicate an already difficult job?



Quoting Astuteman (Reply 20):
Added to comments from knowledgeable people on this site, I would say that aluminium wiring complicates things by an order of magnitude.

I won't try to quantify how much aluminium wiring complicates the problem other than to say a hell of a lot. Aluminium is much more brittle than copper, so the bend radii are much greater. This not only limits the layout, but makes installation more difficult under ideal conditions. Retrofitting brittle wiring has got to be a nightmare. One might get a wiring harness installed with an elapsed week and 1000 man-hours, and then testing reveals that too many wires snapped during installation. That could be repeated several times. Copper would be much more resilent.


25 StarGoldLHR : scenario: Imagine a bowl of spagheti. Cut it evenly into 1/3 segments. try matching the ends up again. The change the spagheti to tagliateli.. try mat
26 Nitrohelper : If Airbus would have to change from aluminum to copper wire, what would the weight penalty be, Anybody have numbers? Would new connectors have to be u
27 Longhaulheavy : Having seen what happens to aluminum wiring in an old home, I am seriously interested in how the engineers expect it to perform in a much harsher env
28 Post contains links AerospaceFan : I think that the question of the use of aluminum wiring in aircraft environments is interesting from an empirical point of view. That is, are there la
29 CWFan : Fascinating discussion. No A vs B stuff either, which while I enjoy the occasional food fight, I'm reminded how nice and informative civil discussions
30 Boeingrulz : If I recall correctly, the problem with residential Aluminum wiring is oxidation where the different metals come together. My dad was an electrician i
31 Post contains images Zvezda : Yes. Whoa! I'm not speculating that the WhaleJet will experience another delay. I'm speculating that it might experience another delay. I apologize i
32 CHRISBA777ER : Hi all, Got to echo CWFan's sentiments - good talk guys well done. The intricacies of manufacture and technology etc is not something I know about rea
33 Zvezda : Someone posted within the last week or so exactly how much weight the use of aluminium wiring was estimated to save in the WhaleJet. Might as well do
34 CHRISBA777ER : So it can be done - do they do it at a D Check or something? Does the wiring have a shorter certified life than the airframe?
35 Zvezda : My recollection is that, yes, the wiring normally gets replaced during what used to be called a D check. I have no idea about certified life, but the
36 Ken777 : With the wiring issue clearly on the table, and airlines in a position to demand compensation, what are the odds that the airlines will demand (and re
37 Post contains images Solnabo : 500 km´s of wirings and that only in SIAs configuration....how many more km´s in EKs config? LH/AF? Micke//SWE
38 Dougloid : It could well be that the problems Airbus is having are associated with aluminum wiring. My guess is that the stuff was probably used to save weight f
39 Khobar : Could someone kindly answer my question? What wiring is up to the customer to spec? What would an airline know about wiring that would make them the a
40 Stitch : Well "customer spec" might apply more to what items they wanted that required wiring. So if they want AVOD, Connexion, powered suites, personal light
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