GKN awarded contract for A380

GKN Aerospace Services has been awarded a contract for the design and manufacture of panels for the Airbus A380

GKN Aerospace Services has been awarded a contract for the design and manufacture of panels for the Airbus A380. The contract, worth an estimated $600m over the assumed 600 aircraft life, is for the design and manufacture of the wing trailing edge panels. The company is already involved in the design of the important midbox structure for the A380 wing and the manufacture of the composite flap track beams that are structural wing components. The work involved on the A380 wing trailing edge will be carried out by a number of GKN’s aerospace facilities. Design will be undertaken in Bristol and Cowes and manufacture in Cowes and in Alabama – both of which already produce wing components for other Airbus aircraft. The A380 contract provides the launch platform for Resin Film Infusion (RFI), a composite manufacturing technology developed by GKN Aerospace Services in partnership with Airbus. The A380 will be the first aerospace platform to use the technology which replaces pre-preg composites. The technique offers both weight and cost savings over current composite processes and will have broad-ranging future applications. Traditionally, on aerospace programmes of this type, first-tier aerospace suppliers are required to invest in the up-front design and production costs of the parts they manufacture; recovering their investments and their associated financing costs over the assumed life of the programme. Through an innovative partnership with the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), GKN has secured programme risk financing to the sum of $25m – thus sharing some of these up-front risks. Part of the RSA’s charter is to promote industry in Alabama. Under the arrangement with GKN, it will provide loan financing, repayments of which will be in line with ship set deliveries to Airbus. RSA will share the programme timescale and aircraft quantity risk. Kevin Smith, Managing Director GKN Aerospace Services, said: “We are proud to have the opportunity to participate as a partner with Airbus on the ground-breaking A380 programme and are pleased that we have been able to develop a solution which secures breakthroughs in both new technology and innovative business practices.”