1 THE ARRIVAL OF THE MAJOR UNITS
The major sections that make up EurofighterTyphoon come from different manufacturers. The front fuselage from BAE Systems Samlesbury, centre fuselage from Germany, rear fuse and left hand wing from Italy, right hand wing from Spain and the engines from Eurojet. Other equipment arrives from the partner companies’ supply chain. First a document check is carried out. Then the parts are thoroughly inspected. Then they are prepared for the marry up.
2 STRUCTURAL MARRY UP
The front, centre and rear fuselage are joined together first. This is carried out using a system known as ‘automated alignment and marry up’. They are brought together using laser tracking for positional accuracy. This ensures the tip of the aircraft and the rear fin are aligned to a tolerance of less than a millimetre. It’s important because an aircraft that’s built ‘straight’ lasts longer as there’s less stress on the airframe and it performs as designed. The next stage is to add the wings and install the main under carriage.
3 SYSTEMS MARRY UP
At this point in the process the electrical and mechanical systems are added. A preliminarily systems test is carried out (DITMCO and hydraulic leak test). Then the cockpit and avionic bay equipment is installed. As the aircraft takes shape, the engines and the fin are installed.
4 TESTING PHASE
This is where all the final touches are applied and all the systems are tested ahead of getting the aircraft set for engine runs. The tests include: fuel, hydraulics, undercarriage, flying controls, avionics and electronic displays and controls. Then the ejector seat and canopy is installed.
Once this testing phase is complete the aircraft is taken to the paint shop where the familiar paint finish is applied. Then it’s time for the engine ground runs. Finally the aircraft carries out its test flights, which are known as Production Flight Acceptance Test, where the pilot runs through a pre-determined series of in-flight manoeuvres.