The first Airbus A380 assembled with redesigned electrical harnesses is expected to reach the power-on milestone next week, but the airframer concedes that the build effort has taken longer than planned as it did not want to endure a repeat of the production problems suffered in 2006.
Major problems with the harnesses that were blamed on issues with the digital mock-up blighted the production of early A380 airframes, forcing Airbus to revamp the assembly process and redesign the harnesses.
Dubbed "Wave 2", the first aircraft with the redesigned harness to enter the final assembly line (FAL) was MSN026 - an aircraft destined for delivery to Qantas at the end of this year.
This aircraft had originally been due to reach the power-on milestone by the end of last year, but this is now expected by "the middle of next week", says A380 FAL chief Jean-Claude Schoepf.
"Clearly this is late compared with our original plan, but we didn't want a repeat of the 'Wave 1' [harness] story," he says. "We have taken time to be sure that we didn't repeat any problems we discovered on MSN026 on subsequent Wave 2 aircraft."
Fuselage sections for early Wave 2 A380s have been delivered to the Toulouse FAL from Hamburg without the wiring harnesses, and these have been installed into the airframes by working parties following structural assembly.
As an interim measure, in the second quarter of this year Airbus will begin to install the harnesses into the fuselage sections in Toulouse prior to assembly, says Schoepf. "The plan is to start installing the harnesses in Hamburg from the end of this year or early next," he adds.
Five of the 27 A380s assembled so far are Wave 2 aircraft, says Schoepf. A total of 13 A380s have flown - five development aircraft, six Singapore Airlines aircraft, and one each for Emirates and Qantas.
Schoepf says that the cabin installation and painting of the first Emirates A380 has been completed at Hamburg. "This aircraft will now undergo modifications that have resulted from the flight-test programme to bring it up to production specification, as well as finalisation of cabin furnishings requested by the customer," he adds.
Airbus plans to deliver 13 A380s this year, and although two of these have already been completed (for SIA) Schoepf concedes that this production plan is "still not yet secure".
The remainder of planned 2008 deliveries comprise three for SIA, and four each for Emirates and Qantas.
A380 output is due to ramp up to 25 aircraft in 2009 and then stabilise at the maximum planned rate of 45 a year from 2010.
Wave 2 A380s assembled
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| MSN customer || 026 Qantas || 027 Qantas || 033 Air France * || 040 Air France || 023 Emirates|
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*First A380 for Air France