Back in late April Airbus performed lightning strike
testing on the A350 XWB, completing a key required step
in preparations for this next-generation Airbus
jetliner’s maiden flight.
“electromagnetic hazard” evaluations which took place
mid-month at Airbus’ Clément Ader facility in Colomiers,
France involved the second A350 XWB flight test
aircraft, MSN3, to demonstrate necessary protection
levels in case of lightning strikes while aloft.
The A350 XWB’s aerostructure is made primarily of
composite materials (carbon fiber reinforced plastic),
providing more electrical resistance than an
aerostructure consisting mostly of metallics. To ensure
the A350 XWB aerostructure safely manages lightning
strikes, Airbus developed a solution where metallic
foils are embedded in the aircraft’s composite panels
increasing the aerostructure’s electrical conductivity
and protecting harnesses with metallic conduits.
Metallic foils already have been used on the A380
rear fuselage section, however as the A350 XWB includes
a higher percentage of composite materials, it is
important to confirm that such foils provide adequate
protection for systems and equipment.
The A350 XWB “electromagnetic hazard” testing on
MSN3 lasted around three days, consisting of
lightning strike simulations and follow-up
measurements of induced voltage/current levels on
selected harnesses. These evaluations use a
low-level current injection rather than the actual
electrical current level generated by a lightning
strike, with the measured voltages and current then
extrapolated to the real threat of 200,000 amperes.
This testing will be continued by similar but longer
tests on the MSN4 aircraft in 2014, fulfilling a
requirement for type certification of Airbus’