Julian Moxon/TOULOUSE

Airbus is on track to book at least 40 more orders for the A380 "by the end of the year" on top of the 62 already taken. Commercial affairs vice-president John Leahy says discussions with airlines and freight operators are "well advanced". He says the A380-800F freighter version in particular is attracting "a lot of interest".

Only 10 of the orders taken to-date are firm, the rest being commitments. Leahy says these will be converted to firm orders once the full aircraft specifications have been delivered to launch customers. "This is imminent. We will have 100 firm orders by the end of the year as a result of talks with several airlines," he says.

Meanwhile, the production programme is building momentum with the establishment of aircraft component management teams concerned with engineering, manufacturing and product support, co-located at Airbus sites around Europe. "It is the first time we have co-located teams for a new aircraft programme," says A380 programme senior vice-president Charles Champion. The first work package will be signed with risk-sharing partners "in a few weeks". Up to 40% of the A380 is being offered for risk-sharing involvement. "We are still looking at slightly less than 40%," he says, adding that the decision to award the main landing gear contract to Goodrich " sends a strong message that we are looking for the best".

The French Government is taking a "fast track" approach to pushing through the approval necessary for the canal and land-based component of the A380 transportation system from Bordeaux to the final assembly line in Toulouse, although local objections to the disruption remain.

A call for tenders has been issued to potential companies that will supply the roll-on/roll-off ships that will transport the fuselage, wings and tailplane to Bordeaux. Work is due to begin soon on the A380 assembly site.

Source: Flight International