Steady as she goes, EADS

This first appeared as a Comment in the 9 April issue of Flight International

At the risk of understating the significance of the transformative governance overhaul that has been formally instituted at EADS, now is a good time to ask: what next?

As in any turnover of rules or leadership – and EADS has both, with a new board of directors, relatively new chief executive and head of Airbus and, soon, new head of Eurocopter – the first order of business has got to be continuity. Even seasoned executives need to learn the ropes in a new role.

Second, watch the A350. Heaven knows cadres of management are living this programme day and night, but the same was, and is, true for Boeing’s 787 project. As A380 veterans know all too well, big programmes have a way of smashing even best-laid plans.

Third, watch Eurocopter. Now is the time to rethink all the assumptions, to make sure rivals are not quietly threatening to outflank this global market leader.

Fourth, wheel out the big brains and devise, within, say, a year, a serious defence business strategy. The Cassidian unit is not in crisis, but neither does it seem good use of capital, which makes it sound rather like a zombie division. Getting out may be an option.

EADS has a lot going for it. Tom Enders and his senior management are in control, profitability is rising, market trends are good and the technological underpinnings are solid. No disruptions, please.

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