A failsafe facility for safety analysis
The Advanced Wing Integration Centre is a new flagship testing facility based in Filton, Bristol. The test facility is a critical aspect of Airbus’ aircraft design process, effectively validating the lifespan of their current and future wing designs.
The facility will test aircraft wings of incredible size and weight, with approximately half a billion cycles of wing loading expected over 25 years. In some cases wings may even be tested up to failure, a process that has caused enough impact it has been known to register as seismic activity in nearby Bristol.
BuroHappold Engineering is part of the project team working to develop the 10,255m2 structure that will house the aircraft components as well as 250 engineers and support staff.
The structure of the Airbus Advanced Wing Integration Centre needed to be able to house multiple aircraft wing types, including the A380, from the world’s largest commercial aircraft. Our brief was simple yet challenging – we needed to design a state of the art ‘strong wall’ and ‘strong floor’ with the capability of withstanding the immense weight of the aircraft. In addition, we needed to design a structure that could be reconfigured to allow testing of smaller wings when required.
To create the structure’s strong wall, we specified a bespoke 220 ton steel modular reaction wall. This modular design offers a flexible solution – the panels can be mounted in numerous arrangements on the piled concrete raft strong floor, allowing Airbus to change the space to suit their future needs.
The wall structure was delivered in four prefabricated modules, weighing up to 65 tons each. The modules were rotated into an upright position within the testing hangar using two mobile cranes then positioned into their own anchor bearings. Following its initial installation, we have carried out a number of metrology assessments to ensure that the wall is the required specification.
To further strengthen the wall, it has been attached to the floor using a pre-stressed anchor system designed by our team. This ensures that the wall can withstand half a billion cycles of wing loading without failing. As well as being effective, the anchor design has saved our client approximately £1 million as they have not had to use an equivalent proprietary system.
Throughout the project we have worked closely with Airbus to quickly develop an extensive understanding of their testing requirements. During the design process, we were able to demonstrate how these requirements influenced the design. This gave us both a powerful platform to review the key aspects of the design, continually improving and progressing, as well as identifying and managing risks.
Designed to be flexible and robust, the Airbus Advanced Wing Integration Centre’s strong wall and floor provides both a suitably robust facility to test wings from the world’s largest aircraft and significant cost savings. We put an emphasis on simple design, saving valuable time during key phases of the construction.
When we integrate our engineering specialisms around a core theme, the benefits to the client multiply