The experience and skills of its staff make the Augsburg plant one of the most technologically diverse plants in the European aviation industry. Augsburg-manufactured components have been part of every Airbus aircraft since the first A300B. Every year Premium AEROTEC supplies its customers with high-quality components, entire modules and complete fuselage sections for over 600 new Airbus aircraft – ranging from the A320 family, via the A330 to the A380.
The Augsburg plant has been a pioneer in lightweight aircraft construction for over 100 years. By way of example, among other things, the CFRP side shells of the rear fuselage for the A350 XWB (section 16/18) are manufactured here. Each of these side shells for the A350-900 is 14 metres long and almost 5.5 metres wide, while they are around three metres longer for the -1000 version. With the -1000 version, important innovations were also introduced in Augsburg: for the first time, Premium AEROTEC, together with Airbus, has developed its own CFRP solution for the highly complex door frame structure for Airbus aircraft. This door frame is the most modern CFRP component currently in use for aircraft construction. From this, together with the floor structure and the CFRP pressure bulkhead, which are also developed and produced in Augsburg, the fully assembled rear section of the A350 XWB is created at Airbus in Hamburg. In addition, the CFRP pressure bulkheads for the Boeing 787 ("Dreamliner") are produced at the Augsburg plant.
In the military sector, the Eurofighter centre-fuselage sections are produced at Augsburg. The roughly six-metre-long component consists mainly of an integral structure from aluminium with a consistently monolithic sheeted outer shell made from 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. Augsburg also produces large components for the military transport aircraft A400M. With a supply share totalling around 70 percent, Premium AEROTEC is one of the largest suppliers for this transport aircraft.
The company’s work packages, distributed across its various plants, are primarily comprised of the development and production of components for the centre fuselage section and the rear fuselage, including the upper cargo door – the world's largest CFRP aircraft component in VAP® technology (Vacuum Assisted Process). Altogether, the company supplies 50,141 parts with a total weight of 10.9 tons for each aircraft. The large components supplied by Premium AEROTEC account for 25 metres of the total 39-metre-long fuselage of the A400M.
Within Premium AEROTEC, Augsburg has a leading role in the field of CFRP technologies. The plant has almost four decades of experience of this material and, for example, with the A350 XWB, was significantly involved in shaping the technological change from primarily metallic aircraft construction to date towards the carbon composite technology for next generation passenger aircraft. Premium AEROTEC uses prepreg processes and the patented VAP® process in particular when processing CFRP structures in Augsburg.
In the prepreg process, impregnated CFRP fibres are laid in a mould with a plastic resin and are then hardened into a component at high pressure and high temperatures 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 fibres are determined by the design and structural analysis. The component then obtains lightning 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 plant. It uses the properties of semi-permeable membranes to 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: Premium AEROTEC produces the CFRP pressure bulkhead for the B787 “Dreamliner” using this technology.
Furthermore, the VAP® process is also used for the production of the upper cargo door of the A400M military transport aircraft. The component, which is about 7 x 4 metres in size, is the world’s largest CFRP aircraft structure produced as an integral construction by resin infusion and already deployed on a pressurised fuselage.
In 2013, a development centre was set up at the Augsburg plant, 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.
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