By the mid 1980’s, with air travel even increasing, an extension to the 200 Series was planned. This was completed in 1988 by the addition of another 21 metres of X bed and a third 5 axis Gantry and cutting spindle. This made the machine 87 metres long, more than 4 cricket pitches, with a total weight of around 750 tons. It was now capable of simultaneously cutting 3 wings skins each 24 metres long, or even the latest larger Airbus wings, which were now over 40 metres long.
Schoolboys of the 1980s
While schoolboys of the 1980’s were well aware of huge aircraft wings being flown to France, probably they speculated on how this was achieved? It was made possible thanks to the huge Boeing Super Guppy transport plane (at Boeing it was a standing joke that “every Airbus was delivered by Boeing”)! Like the fascination the schoolboys had then, readers now may speculate on how it was possible that this huge machine, with massive X-axis motors fighting against each other to eliminate backlash, was able to position the 35 ton Gantry beam, to an accuracy of just over 2 microns, twenty-five times smaller than the thickness of a human hair? It was all made possible thanks to KTM and the engineers from Brighton.