787 disruption a consequence of airframers’ new business model: Bisignani

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Airlines should get accustomed to disruptions caused by programme delays to new airliners as the industry transitions from traditional manufacturing methods to a new business model.

That is the warning from former IATA head Giovanni Bisignani, who says that the delays are a byproduct of the complex supply chains forced on airframers by the huge financial burden of developing new products.

"It is so expensive to build a new aircraft. If you have to do it in the traditional way, by financing [the production of] all the parts, then you would never have a new aircraft," says Bisignani in reference to the problems afflicting the Boeing 787, and previously the Airbus A380.

The Italian - who was director general of IATA between 2002 and 2011, and previously a chief executive of Alitalia - says that the "enormous financial requirements" of developing a new airliner have forced manufacturers to outsource to levels never before seen.

"Now it is not just to outsource the components, but it is to outsource the engineering and development of those components," he says. "So it is a much more complicated situation than before and in future it will be always like this because, for example, it costs billions to make a wing."

Bisignani says the disruptions to deliveries and operations are "the price we have to pay at this stage of the industry's transition to a different approach to manufacturing".

However, he does not expect any long-term repercussions to customers from the 787 delays: "Like the problems with the A380, fortunately after a while they're forgotten - although it's an expensive cost for the manufacturers."