Airbus - St. Eloi
Case Study Airbus - St. Eloi

Airbus jet engine pylons inspected with dual laser tracker setup

The initial plan to build a second metrology lab was quickly abandoned. «The lack of space and the difficulties in constructing an identical lab forced us to explore different methods of saving time,» explains François Richer. And so the idea of placing two Leica Geosystems laser trackers in parallel to synchronize the measurement was quickly adopted, with the main requirement that the system be easy to use.

The Airbus site in St. Eloi in Toulouse, France manufactures all engine pylons for the entire Airbus aircraft lineup. Engine pylons attach the engine to the wing structure. The pylons are almost invisible to passengers, as they are hidden under various aerodynamic housings under the wing. Invisible as they are, they are nonetheless an absolutely crucial element of the entire aircraft structure. Almost 4,000 mounts ensure that this structure can withstand the physical stress to which it is subjected. Hydraulic, fuel, electric power and air conditioning lines all pass through the pylons, which transfer the physical loads between the engine and the plane. They are subject to temperatures changes from -40°C at cruising speed to 200 or even 300°C during the firing up of the engines, and are put under extremely high vibration loads. The pylons are also an important aerodynamic component in terms of engine air flow. The production quality of this component is therefore absolutely critical, ensuring the safety and performance of the plane.

The metrology lab at the St. Eloi pylon unit inspects every single pylon before it is assembled on the planes. 80 pylons are inspected every month. François Richer, Company Customer Coordinator in the Quality Management Department, explains: «The first pylon measurement and control tools were Kern theodolites with a camera and adhesive target markers. This method represented a real technological breakthrough during the 1990s. In 1999, Airbus St. Eloi purchased two Leica LTD500 laser trackers, which were used sequentially, measuring about 600 pylons per year at that time.» The exponential rate of airplane production resulting from increased demand quickly exceeded the capacity of the metrology lab. François Richer continues: «With a target rate increase of 54% over the period between 2006 and 2010, we had to react and find a solution to overcome this bottleneck. . . . .

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Hexagon Metrology s.r.o.
Litvínovská 609/3
190 00 Praha 9
Czech Republic

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