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Hollingbury and the Airbus (Part 5)

Transport to BA Chester and installation

Due to the huge size of the X bed, sections were assembled in the Brighton factory, inspected for geometry and then stripped down into single manageable units for transportation and reassembly at BA in Chester.  However, as the 2 Gantries were so huge, and had taken hundreds of man-hours to assemble, it was decided to transport the completed 35 ton assemblies in one go!  The maximum load limit of the overhead cranes in the Brighton factory was 30 tons, not quite enough.  A huge mobile crane was brought in to lift the Gantry on to a low loader lorry.  The Gantry was so wide and overhanging the lorry that a police escort was required on its slow journey to Chester, for final assembly onto the already installed and prepared X  beds.  Installation and commissioning on site was carried out to strict procedures by KTM service engineers

Cutting of wing skins and wing performance

For the machining of wing skins, a single billet of aluminium alloy, is clamped to the machine by vacuum, and pre determined datum’s confirm to the CNC the exact location of the billet.  A high speed routing cutter, as defined by the part programme gradually removes 80 – 90% of the aluminium billet, in a cutting process that could take many hours, precision machining is critical for many reasons!  During take-off the stress on the wings is highest, with up to 100,000 litres of aviation fuel stowed within, the wing tip rises by a full four metres as the aircraft gets off the ground!  It’s for these reasons that attention to exact size is of paramount consideration and weight is so important.  Every unnecessary scrap of metal must be machined away, however removal of too much could cause weakness, the wings must have the required strength.

The 200 Series Maxetrace in production at British Aerospace Chester after installation
From the private collection of Pat Bates
Inspection of Wing Skins after machining
From the private collection of Pat Bates

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