Airbus will continue to build components for the first A380 Freighter, even if the remaining customer United Parcel Service decides to cancel its order as is widely expected.
Airbus executive vice-president of programmes Tom Williams says that construction of components and subsections for the first aircraft is well under way, and final assembly is due to begin at the end of next year. "At the moment we're going gangbusters," he says.
Williams concedes that if UPS drops its order the programme's pace will be slowed, but expects that Airbus will continue to partially build the first aircraft, "although not necessarily the final assembly". This is because the freighter's structure feeds into the development of the proposed extended-range -800R and -900 stretch.