Airbus begins drive to simplify 'over-complex' A380 production

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Airbus has begun a drive to speed up the A380's "over-complex" assembly process through improved quality control and by allocating engineering support to the production line to resolve problems more quickly.

"A380 production costs are still significantly above expectations and deliveries ramp-up is still difficult to manage," said EADS boss Louis Gallois at the company's joint press conference with Airbus in Seville. He stressed that the situation is improving, but conceded that "we are not out of the woods yet".

Airbus chief executive Tom Enders concedes that in 2009 Airbus "did not achieve the 18 A380 deliveries we wanted to achieve". The airframer completed 10 deliveries - although part of the deficit was due to customer deferrals that caused some "turmoil of rescheduling". However, Enders warns that the giant will remain a "financial liability" for "years to come".

 © Airbus

Following an "internal bottom-up review", the production issues have been addressed through more focused quality control and focused engineering support for the production line. "Our target is clearly to deliver at least 20 A380s in 2010," says Enders.

As part of the drive to speed up production, new processes will be implemented that will require a "change of mindset", says chief operating officer Fabrice Bregier. "What we call 'stop and fix'."

To enable the issue of travelled work between plants to be resolved more quickly, Airbus wants production teams to ensure that equipped sections are fully tested before they are despatched to the assembly line.

Improved harmony of quality inspections will see teams headed by a single manager to avoid unnecessary, timewasting duplication. Stronger engineering teams will be deployed to solve small problems "on the spot", says Bregier, rather than up to two weeks.

He is confident the revamp will allow the airframer to boost monthly output to two A380s in the second half of the year.