Gone forever are the days of four-engine jets made of aluminum. The latest episode of PilotsEYE.tv introduces its audience to the new Airbus A350, a marvel of commercial aviation, produced using the most advanced construction methods and materials yet. The A350 brings numerous advantages in its reinforced carbon-fibre frame, but most significantly, it boasts 20% less weight and 25% lower fuel consumption.
The episode’s “main man” is Lufthansa head of the fleet Captain Martin Hoell, who allowed PilotsEYE to accompany him on his visits to production facilities in Hamburg and Bremen and even to the final assembly line (FAL) in Toulouse. From the A350’s cockpit on the maiden flight from Munich to Boston, Captain Hoell describes the individual stages of manufacturing needed to make the first of the 25 aircraft, for whose phasing in he is responsible.
For the first time in the ten years of PilotsEYE.tv’s existence, it was possible to film the “holy grail” of aviation documentaries: an acceptance flight. What might sound mundane is actually one of commercial aviation’s biggest challenges, as, for the example, all hydraulic systems necessary for actually steering the plane are turned off during the testflight. A real “high-level emergency test”.
Also for the first time, the film-crew was able to capture on film the “Iron Bird”, the skeleton aircraft, built in a secret hangar for initial flight tests three years before the prototype.
Striking results: repairs using Speed Tape
It was only a brief incident, but with possibly disastrous results – and PilotsEYE explains in detail: A small yellow stone penetrated the lining of a landing flap actuation system and threatened the safety of the entire flight. “That was a small part of the runway that hit us, probably in India, where the plane was coming from,” the captain surmises. In the end, the damage to the surface is provisionally repaired, and a sticky situation nicely wrapped up.
Plane printing: first 3-D mass-produced components
For several years, the aircraft industry has been using 3-D printers to make small, non-safety-related parts from polymers. With the A350, a new era of titanium 3-D printing has dawned. In this so-called laser enameling process, a laser melts thousands of individual layers of titanium powder into a component, whose force-displacement characteristics equal that of natural materials. PilotsEYE.tv shows you where the first “mass-printed” aircraft component is installed.
Fuselage construction: 1,000 rivets and no mistakes
Four large carbon-fiber components and thousands of rivets come together in a Hamburg factory to form the fuselage of an A350. It all begins with a house-sized yellow frame. Using exact laser measurements to chart the spaces on its floor where the passengers will sit, several holes are then bored into it. This procedure guarantees absolute precision and directional stability for the aircraft. Pictures for the ages.
CFK wings: the more layers, the stronger they are
The largest component of the A350 — 35 running meters of wing — comes from Hamburg-Stade, where carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers have been used in aircraft manufacturing since 1983. A special technique is used to cover the upper wing shell in strips of polymer, heat them to 180 °C in an autoclave for maximum adhesiveness, and finally put down exactly as many layers as are necessary for the desired strength.
All-engine flame-out: simulating the worst-case scenario
What happens when both engines suddenly fail during a flight? Pilots regularly train for this worst-case scenario, but the “real thing” is a different beast, altogether. Both captains break out in cold sweat beneath their oxygen masks. Will they be able to complete the mission?
Acceptance flight: a test drive in the sky
A task ten years in the making has finally worked out: For the very first time, PilotsEYE has been able to capture a test flight — the second altogether of the third A350 for Lufthansa (D-AICX) — using several cameras.
The reason for the hesitancy of airline and manufacturer to allow an in-depth documentation is the nervousness of both parties before ownership of the aircraft is transferred to the airline. Given its price of about US$310 million, this is certainly understandable. The undeniable highlight of the transfer is a test, in which both hydraulic systems are turned off mid-flight, which normally makes an aircraft impossible to steer. Not so with the A350.
Iron Bird: inside Airbus’s restricted area
The inner workings of the A350 were assembled from all the original components three years before the prototype (MSN001). Chris Norden, one of the A350’s test pilots, completed his first missions using this skeleton model. Captain Martin and PilotsEYE.tv have managed to crack open the secured doors of Airbus’s very own Area 51.
Roll-in: the welcome party of the year
When the curtain falls, a new age begins. To welcome the first of 25 planes ordered, more than 1,000 invited guests celebrated in a Munich aircraft hangar, that was converted to a giant party zone and decorated for the occasion. But how do people celebrate their guest of honor, if “she” is 66 meters long and weighs 116 tons? PilotsEYE accepted congratulations on its behalf.
The Route to Boston
Munich (DE), Würzburg (DE), Aachen (DE), Antwerp (NL), London (GB), Cardiff (GB), Cork (IE), the Atlantic Ocean, Newfoundland (CA), Fredericton (CA), North Haven (USA), Gulf of Maine, Boston (USA): 6367 km (3438 nm)
New in episode 19
“Through our first-time cooperation with Flightradar24 from Sweden, Episode 19 marks a momentous step forward towards my set goal of depicting the incredibly technical reality of aviation in a slightly more understandable way,” gushes producer Thomas Aigner, as, in another PilotsEYE premiere, the audience can not only hear all nearby aircraft through the linked-in radio calls, but also see them in digital overlay.
The pilot steers, the command center thinks
It’s a familiar sight: the command center used during NASA’s rocket launches. Airbus has a similar command center, which monitors and records all incoming images and data during their test flights. For Captain Hoell, the “directeur de la télémétrie” puts up on the screens all the images and data collected from the maiden flight of the A350’s prototype on June 14, 2013 this memorable day from the perspective of the Airbus command center. More exciting than the original live broadcast.
Cutting edge: a jet of water at the speed of sound
“Being able to cut our carbon-fiber wing shells with water saves us using ten different conventional tools,” enthuses Matthias Brenke, head of wing production in Stade, near Hamburg. This technique shoots a mixture of water and sand through a tiny nozzle at the speed of sound. A truly cutting-edge experience.
Learning from past: the A350’s new safety features
Pilots losing consciousness because of a loss of cabin pressure (as happened in the crash of Helios Airways in 2005) are now a thing of the past. The new “auto-emergency descent” function automatically lowers the plane to a safe altitude, the so-called MORA (minimum off-track altitude), within 15 seconds, so that enough oxygen is present for crew and passengers and control can be regained. Safety first!
Great together: in the cockpit and in the commentary
As in several previous episodes, both pilots were able to watch the finished film before its release. Their personal commentary and background information to the procedures shown are, as always, a special treat for all fans of the series. The pilots’ tremendously informative way of describing their own work is a great incentive to watch the film at least a second time with the audio set to the commentary track.
The PEFB: all original documents in PDF format
For everyone who wants to read along with the film, PilotsEYE.tv offers a free download of a complete set of documents relevant to the flight. From the flight plan with the most important data to the weather maps, it’s all in the “PilotsEYE Flight Briefing” PDF document, which you’ll find at http://PilotsEYE.tv/downloads
Wallpaper images: screen art from flights
The most beautiful images from the film have been adapted for your computer screen and made available as a free download at http://PilotsEYE.tv/downloads
LANDMARK – DEEPSLEEP – DOUBLECROSS – WINTERWONDERLAND – CONTROLLING – INANDOUT – WATERINGPLACE – DXB – HERSHINESS – POLITE – FAHRVERGNUEGEN – HEAVYMETAL – WINGSPANNER – TURNEDON – KIDSMILE – CARBONCOPY – SKINNY –SWEATNOTEARS
DVD: EAN 4260139480296 ISBN 978-3-943781-29-8 ASIN: B0711WL4R3
BD: EAN 4260139480395 ISBN 978-3-943781-39-7 ASIN: B0725PC74L
SUBTITLES: ENGLISH • GERMAN • FRENCH • SPANISH • TURKISH • CHINESE
Additional photos: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm6h2W1v
Audio: Hi-Fi – Stereo
Playback: Region all
No restrictions | Autoloop
Flight data & Crew
- Flight no.: LH424
- Aircraft: Airbus A350
- Run time: 140 min
CN, DE, EN, ES, FR, TR
Plane printing first 3-D mass-produced components
Fuselage construction 1,000 rivets and no mistakes
CFK wings the more layers, the stronger they are
Striking results repairs using Speed Tape
Acceptance flight a test drive in the sky
Roll-in the welcome party of the year
Iron Bird inside Airbus’s restricted area
Wallpaper images screen art from flights
The pilot steers the command center thinks
The PEFB all original documents in PDF format
Cutting edge a jet of water at the speed of sound
Learning from past the A350’s new safety features
Great together in the cockpit and in the commentary
All-engine flame-out simulating the worst-case scenario