The West Factory at Airbus's Broughton site was eerily quiet last week, when UK ministers and top management executives converged in North Wales to announce the ｣34 million Integrated Wing research programme to investigate and eventually produce technologies to be used on Airbus's A320 replacement.
The Marie-Celeste atmosphere could partly be explained by the special event that day, as workers left their tasks to line up and meet their new (-ish) boss Louis Gallois, for the first time, as well as UK trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling, and Wales's first minister Rhodri Morgan.
But Airbus executives admit that the delays to the A380 programme mean the A380 wing manufacture site is now full to capacity, with completed wing sets ready and waiting for the green light from
The A380 hangar may be quiet at the moment, but it is certainly impressive, and in stark contrast to the site's East Factory, where A320, A330 and A340 aircraft wings are being built - here the atmosphere is one of buzzing activity. Workers have been redeployed here, as well as to Airbus's other sites at
Still, the hold-ups must be unsettling for staff at the site, which provides around 7,000 jobs for local people. So the announcement of the Integrated Wing project, which will provide work at Broughton when it moves from the research to the technology demonstration phase in three years, is timely. Gallois spoke enthusiastically about the importance of the
I'm sure none of the engineers and technicians listening would disagree with this sentiment - but most of them would probably have preferred it if he (or his speechwriter) had been able to distinguish between the A380 and A320 programmes. Unless they know something we don't about the "problems with the A320" that he is confident Airbus can quickly resolve�