A380 fuselage assembly at Hamburg.
A380 fuselage assembly at Hamburg.

The aviation industry is continuing to grow. Airbus forecasts a 4.8% average annual growth rate per annum for passenger traffic over the next 20 years (Airbus Global Market Forecast 2011-2030).

Airbus claims to be the market leader, with one of its aircraft taking off or landing every 2 seconds.

Composite materials are becoming more widely used throughout the Airbus range. The company has been steadily increasing the composites content in its aircraft, from around 5% in the A300/A310, to 25% in the A380 (the world's largest passenger aircraft), up to 53% in the new A350 XWB.

More pictures
Take a look at some more pictures from the trip in this Reinforced Plastics Facebook album.

Hamburg is Airbus' HQ in Germany, employing 11 900 people. The site houses the final assembly line for the A320 and one of Airbus' two A380 delivery centres. It also produces complete fuselage sections for the A380, which are then shipped to France.

Journalists saw the assembly line for the A320 and the A380 fuselage assembly.

CFK Valley Stade

A few kilometres away, in Stade, Airbus' Centre of Excellence has influenced the development of a network of organisations developing carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) technology.

CFK Valley was founded in 2004 and there are now more than 3000 employees dedicated to CFRP research in the Stade region. Although its roots are in the aerospace industry it's current strategy is to diversify into the automotive, transportation and wind energy sectors.

Journalists visited CFK Nord, a large-scale research centre designed to develop series production processes and manufacturing equipment. Industry partners on site here include German aerospace centre DLR, the Fraunhofer Institut, EADS, and Dow Chemical.

Journalists also visited the Composites Technology Centre (CTC), where the majority of the work focuses on Airbus, with the goal of closing the gap between R&D and series production.

To finish the event, there was a tour of Dow Chemicals' Stade site, where epoxy resins, among other products, are produced.

Composites Europe 2012

COMPOSITES EUROPE 2012 takes place on 9-11 October in Düsseldorf.

COMPOSITES EUROPE is organised by Reed Exhibitions in cooperation with the European Composites Industry Association (EuCIA), the VDMA Forum Composite Technology, the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA), international trade magazine Reinforced Plastics, and the German Federation of Reinforced Plastics (AVK).