Civil aviation is the most important business unit of Premium AEROTEC. With cutting-edge technologies, materials and production processes, the company has established itself as one of the world's largest aviation industry suppliers. The range of services includes structural components for the entire A320 family, A330 family as well as the A380 and the A350 XWB. In addition, Premium AEROTEC is making an important contribution to the Boeing B787 "Dreamliner".
Premium AEROTEC GmbH
Premium AEROTEC is one of the world's leading tier 1 suppliers of commercial and military aircraft structures and is a partner in the major European and international aerospace programmes. Its core business is the development and production of large aircraft components from aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre composites (CFRP). Premium AEROTEC is Europe's no.1 in this segment with its roughly 9,400 employees at various sites in Germany and Romania and a turnover of €1.6 billion in 2013. Premium AEROTEC is represented by its products in all commercial Airbus programmes. In addition, the company is making an important contribution to the Boeing B787 "Dreamliner". The current military programmes include the Eurofighter "Typhoon" and the new military transport aircraft A400M.
The continuous development of Premium AEROTEC into a global company started with its founding in 2009. On January 1, 2009, Premium AEROTEC GmbH was formed from the Airbus plants in Nordenham and Varel and the former EADS plant in Augsburg. The Airbus parts production unit in Bremen was acquired a year later. In December 2010, Premium AEROTEC also took over the military activities of Aircraft Services Lemwerder (ASL). At the same time, Premium AEROTEC SRL Romania started producing aircraft components at the newly built site in Braşov, Romania. Premium AEROTEC is a 100% subsidiary of the Airbus Group. The company is based in Augsburg.
In order to contribute successfully to the shaping of the future of aviation, it constantly needs new ideas which combine technical progress with economic and environmental efficiency. Thus the engineers and developers at Premium AEROTEC are continuously working on the new and further development of lightweight and highly durable aircraft structures. They cooperate closely with universities and research institutes in the process. In 2013, a development centre was set up at the Augsburg site, where more than 400 development engineers are now working within 4,500 square metres on the future of aviation. It constitutes the focus of the company's development activities.
In an annual nationwide survey of the Top Employers Institute, which certifies employers with excellent personnel management and strategy, Premium AEROTEC was awarded the quality seal "Top Employer in Germany" for two years in a row, and was awarded "Top Employer for Engineers" in the previous year.
Products + Services:
- Aircraft components
Commercial product range
In addition to large fuselage and wing components, the components for the A320 family (medium-haul aircraft of types A318, A319, A320 and A321) also include floor grids, inner and outer wing trailing edges, inner flap tracks, keel beams as well as hundreds of other individual parts. The company produces around 15 million individual parts per year in total. The largest of the shells produced by Premium AEROTEC for the A320 family is the super shell, whose maximum dimensions have been achieved for the A321 type: nine metres long and almost four metres wide. In addition to this super shell and other large parts of the fuselage shell (sections 15 and 17), Premium AEROTEC is also responsible for the production, assembly and equipping of the entire section 19, which extends from the rear of the passenger cabin to the start of the fuselage tail cone. In addition to the existing types, most of the A320 models will also be offered in future in the new neo version (new engine option). On September 25, 2014, the first A320neo, on whose development Premium AEROTEC has been involved intensively since 2011, completed its maiden flight. Due to the more efficient - but also larger and heavier engines - the strain on the Premium AEROTEC components had to be recalculated by the in-house development department and the structure had to be reinforced in part.
For the long-haul aircraft of the A330 family, Premium AEROTEC produces and assembles the fuselage sections 13 and 14 and the fuselage sections 16 to 19. The A330 passenger version is produced both at Premium AEROTEC and at Airbus in Hamburg Premium AEROTEC is also an important partner on board for the successors of this successful Airbus family, the A330neo models. After the enormous market success of the A320neo, there will also be a generational change in future in the A330 long-haul family: the A330-800neo will replace the current A330-200, and the A330-900neo will replace the current A330-300 in the long term. Premium AEROTEC is actively participating in this development in order to make these proven long-haul aircraft also fit for the future. About 40 engineers from various disciplines are currently working on making the current components lighter and more efficient in production. In the spring of 2016, the first A330neo components are scheduled to be delivered to the Airbus Group. Until then, however, extensive modifications are still necessary, which pose enormous challenges for the development, quality assurance and production areas of Premium AEROTEC.
For the world's largest passenger aircraft, the double-deck A380, Premium AEROTEC is responsible for fuselage shell segments, wing components, flap tracks and floor structures. During this aircraft programme, the company has demonstrated a wide range of its technological expertise in the field of economic production of highly durable, lightweight structures, as in the fuselage segments which are welded via laser instead of via conventional rivets, the production of fuselage shells in composite construction with GLARE (glass fibre reinforced aluminium) as well as the use of components made of carbon fibre composite material (CFRP).
With the A350 XWB - the latest and most ambitious aviation programme - Premium AEROTEC was involved significantly in shaping the technological change from primarily metallic aircraft construction to date towards the carbon composite technology (CFRP technology) for next generation passenger aircraft: the fuselage of the A350 XWB consists entirely of carbon fibre. For the very first time, Airbus thus offers an aircraft made to a large extent from CFRP – and Premium AEROTEC is the largest supplier of these new fuselages. After the delivery of the first -900 version, at nearly 67 metres in length, to the first customer at the end of 2014, Premium AEROTEC also started to produce the -1000 version, which is around seven metres longer. For this new long-haul aircraft, Premium AEROTEC is responsible for the entire front fuselage section (sections 13/14), the side shells of the rear fuselage (sections 16/18) as well as the floor structure and CFRP pressure bulkhead. With the -1000 version, two important innovations were introduced at the same time. For the first time in a commercial Airbus aircraft, a door frame structure made of CFRP was used - designed and produced by Premium AEROTEC. Changes in the production process (laying process) have also led to a significant reduction in production time.
Premium AEROTEC uses prepeg processes and the patented VAP® process in particular when processing CFRP structures. In the prepeg process, impregnated CFRP fibres are laid in a form with a plastic resin and are then hardened at high pressure and high temperatures into a component in an autoclave. For this purpose, the prepregs are automatically arranged in several layers on a laying fixture. The number of layers and the direction of the fibre are determined by the design and structural analysis. The component then obtains lighting and surface protection by means of a copper or bronze mesh. In a further step, the complete component is then packaged in preparation for hardening in the autoclaves.
The acronym VAP® stands for "Vacuum Assisted Process" and refers to a specific technique whereby the resin is introduced into the components made of non-impregnated CFRP components using a vacuum. The VAP® process was developed and patented at the Augsburg site. It uses the properties of semi-permeable membranes to reliably exclude unwanted air and gas bubbles when introducing the resin. One advantage of this new technology is that it does not require an autoclave; a temperature-controlled oven is sufficient to harden the resin. Apart from the economic advantages, this patented technique also has the benefit of allowing shorter component production times in comparison to conventional processes. Furthermore, this technique increases the flexibility of production. This also won over the US aircraft manufacturer Boeing. For the B787 "Dreamliner", Premium AEROTEC produces the CFRP pressure bulkheads via this technology. Furthermore, the VAP® process is also used for the production of the upper cargo door of the A400M military transport aircraft.
Military product range
Premium AEROTEC has been a reliable partner of the European air forces for decades with its German sites in Augsburg, Bremen, Nordenham and Varel and has an extensive military portfolio. The company supports its customers as a competent partner from development via production to supervision in the field. This ensures not only the maximum durability of the products, but also the constant modernisation and maintenance of value of aircraft structures and their basic systems in technological development. Premium AEROTEC has all necessary military approvals from the German Federal Aviation Office and the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support.
A400M military transport aircraft
With a supply share of around 70 percent of the fuselage, Premium AEROTEC is one of the largest suppliers for the world's most advanced military transport aircraft. The A400M will gradually replace the C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transall fleets which are still in use. Premium AEROTEC's work packages are primarily comprised of the development and production of components for the centre fuselage section and the rear fuselage - including the upper cargo door from carbon fibre composite material (CFRP). The line systems for fuel, hydraulics, bleed air and oxygen, the air-conditioning system and the water and sewage system and other system components are also supplied for these sections.
The company supplies 50,141 parts with a total weight of 10.9 tons for each aircraft. Premium AEROTEC produces 25 metres of large components of the 39-metre long fuselage. The upper cargo door made of CFRP is a technological milestone. The component, which is about 7x4 metres in size, is the world’s largest CFRP aircraft structure produced by resin infusion and using the "one shot" fabrication method that is used for a pressurised section of the fuselage. This technological novelty was made possible by the VAP® (Vacuum Assisted Process) technology, developed and patented in-house, in which the resin is introduced into the carbon fibre using a vacuum. Right from the design phase of this component, the engineers attempted to achieve the most integrated construction possible. Thus, for example, the stringers were integrated directly into the inner surface of the aircraft fuselage. This achieved the following result: the integral construction enabled the omission of about 3,000 additional rivets which would normally be used to connect the stringer to the shell, thus significantly reducing costs and weight. In addition to cost and weight advantages, this patented technique is also impressive in comparison to traditional methods due to the shorter production time of the structural components and increased flexibility in production. Premium AEROTEC received an internationally recognised and cross-industry innovation award for this component.
Premium AEROTEC also proves its strong role in military aircraft construction with its involvement in the Eurofighter "Typhoon". Integrated systems and state-of-the-art production technologies make the Eurofighter one of the world's finest high-performance combat aircraft.
The centre fuselage section made by Premium AEROTEC is the structural "heart" of this European multi-role combat aircraft. The roughly six-metre component consists mainly of an integral structure from aluminium with a consistently monolithic sheeted outer shell from carbon fibre composite material (CFRP). Thanks to this design, which places the highest demands on the expertise of engineers and mechanics, the centre fuselage section is both light and durable. At up to double the speed of sound, the component absorbs in flight all forces which arise due to the wings attached to it, the air brake and the main landing gear when landing.
The components produced at different company sites, for example, the fuselage section 3/2b from Varel, are integrated in the centre fuselage section in Augsburg. Subsequently, Premium AEROTEC first supplies the entire centre fuselage section to Airbus Defence and Space in Manching. This is followed by the further supply to the final assembly lines in Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain. In the summer of 2014, Premium AEROTEC supplied the 500th centre fuselage section.
The Tornado programme is the largest multinational armament programme in Europe with almost 1,000 aircraft constructed up to 1999. The United Kingdom, Italy and Germany were involved in the construction of this fighter aircraft, whose development started in 1970, and the aircraft are mainly used by their air forces. Premium AEROTEC is now involved in the repair and spare parts business for the aircraft that are still in use. The machining expertise of Premium AEROTEC - as one of the world's leading titanium machining vendors - dates back to its experience in the construction of the tornado wing box and is now used especially in the Airbus A350 XWB, where huge titanium forged components have to be machined (for example, undercarriage fittings, door frame ribs). The tornado wing box, an extremely highly stressed structural component, is used to connect the pivoting wing to the fuselage and is welded almost imperceptibly. Titanium machining as well as welding with an electron beam were still at an early stage during the Tornado development. Particularly thick-walled, highly stressed components can be bonded using electron beam welding. Premium AEROTEC operates one of the largest systems in Europe in this area at its Augsburg site.
- jigs and tools
- prepreg, thermoplastics, RTM, VAP© process
- CFRP, aluminium, titanium
- engineering services
- aerocraft structures