Taking to the skies in the Airbus A350
On 14th June 2013 the new long-haul Airbus A350 took off from Toulouse, France, for its four-hour maiden flight. On board were numerous radio frequency cables and connectors from HUBER+SUHNER.
The new Airbus flagship has a range of more than 15,000 kilometres, and depending on the model, offers a great deal of space and comfort for its 350 passengers. The twin-engine, wide-bodied jet is designed to be lighter, quieter, more efficient and comfortable than conventional machines of this size. Airbus has set its sights high and aims to set new standards with the A350. This strategy seems to be working, as at the time of the maiden flight Airbus had already received more than 650 orders.
400 metres of microwave cable and 110 connectors
Achieving these design aims took some time. The A350 project was officially launched at the end of 2006. As early as 2007, collaboration with HUBER+SUHNER began with the first products for the design-in phase shipping in 2009. The products had their first official use during the maiden flight of the A350. Some 400 metres of HUBER+SUHNER microwave cable and 110 HUBER+SUHNER connectors of various configurations were deployed in the prototype. The products are used in the radar systems and monitoring sensors, and also in the aircraft's communications and in-flight entertainment systems.
RF kx cable
Airbus has high expectations for suppliers and their products, which must meet the requirements of EN9100 standard. Since the design intent was to reduce fuel consumption by 25% compared to its competitors, weight reduction was a major topic in the development. HUBER+SUHNER was able to meet these requirements by specifically designing the product portfolio in close collaboration with Airbus in order to to meet their needs. For example, cables and connectors had to support easy but process-assured installation - HUBER+SUHNER was able to meet the specific tightness requirements for the connectors.
The biggest challenge however, was to develop and certify the cables according to the EN4604-010 "KX" standard, and all 30 types of connector according to EN4652-001, because these standards are still in draft form and therefore not released. To circumvent this issue, Airbus granted HUBER+SUHNER provisional approval in advance, in order to allow the products to be installed in the aircraft.
A basis for sustainable co-operation
The basis for the long-term continuation of HUBER+SUHNER's collaboration with Airbus seems established, particularly since the intention is not only to install the KX microwave cable and the connectors in the A350, but also in the 500 Airbus A320 aircraft produced every year. In addition, other HUBER+SUHNER radio frequency cables with antennas have already passed Airbus's fire tests with "flying" colours. Meanwhile, the European standards are nearing release, freeing the way for HUBER+SUHNER to take to the skies. Airbus will be delivering the first of the more than 650 A350s ordered by the end of 2014.