India to be R&D hub for Airbus A350

India will be one of the key centres for design and development of the A350 aircraft, European aircraft manufacturer Airbus’ answer to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.Designing work for the A350 is the next project for the Airbus Engineering Centre India (AECI), the company’s high-tech aircraft component manufacturing facility in Bangalore, which started functioning in April last year.“The A350 is the next big project for us. The engineers at the facility are currently working on the development of tools to design the aircraft,” said Kiran Rao, president, Airbus India.“We will soon get the software for analysing the stress and strain on aeroplanes. We are working on the structural analysis of the aircraft among other things,” he added.Rao said Airbus was recruiting engineers for the work every month. The Centre has 35 engineers and the number is supposed to grow to 300 in the next four years.The A350 XWB (Xtra Wide Body), the new and improved version of the A350, has been built to take on the Boeing 777 family and some of the models of the Boeing 787.The aircraft has a wider fuselage, which makes it possible for it to accommodate nine people in every row.“We have already sold (which means received orders) 480 A350s, out of which 15 to 20 are being bought by Kingfisher,” said Rao. The aircraft will be put into service from 2013.Airbus has been looking at various ways to use India for both component manufacture as well as leverage its research and development potential. The first manufacturing agreement was with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in 1998 to make doors for the A320.“More than half the doors for the Airbus 320 are produced in Bangalore. And as we increase the production of A320s to 40 aircraft a month, which is the largest number of civil aircraft ever produced per month in the aviation industry history, more than 20 sets of doors will be produced in Bangalore every month,” said Rao.Earlier, Airbus had outsourced its engineering projects to other Indian companies like Infosys, which participated in the designing of the A380s, HCL and other companies like CADES, Satyam and Quest.Airbus rival Boeing has also been striking deals in India. These include a 10-year agreement with HAL to get $1 billion worth of business in the aviation space, a contract to the Tatas to make floor beams.

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