Airbus is aiming to squeeze half of this year's overall deliveries of the reconfigured Airbus A321neo into its fourth-quarter output.
Production of the 'Airbus Cabin-Flex' version of the aircraft, which includes reconfigured doors and new interior layouts for long-haul operations, has presented ramp-up difficulties for the airframer.
Chief executive Guillaume Faury, speaking during a 30 October briefing, said that Airbus had deployed additional resources to reduce outstanding work on almost-finished aircraft.
He says the concentrated effort – including new labour structures and additional working time agreements – is intended to "de-bottleneck" the Hamburg Finkenwerder single-aisle production plant.
"It's paying off," he insists, pointing out that the volume of A321neo ACF production is increasing. Half of this year's deliveries will be handed over in the last three months of 2019, says Faury.
He says Airbus is having to deal with multiple heads-of-version of the aircraft – the initial examples for each new customer – and that it can only serialise production for each customer once the work for their first airframes is complete.
Faury suggests Airbus needs to work through "30, 40 or 50" heads-of-version A321neo ACFs, and this means "two difficult years" for the programme.
But he expects this to be "completely digested" over the period from the second half of this year through to the end of 2020.
Faury also stresses that, while individual deliveries are important, the airframer considers the industrial smoothing of the A321neo programme to be part of a broader underlying efficiency transformation to allow Airbus to increase overall single-aisle production.
"It's not a three-month exercise, more a two-year exercise," says Faury. "We're targeting more [aircraft] but ramp-up and transformation of the production system is a difficult thing to do."
Airbus is looking to ramp up monthly single-aisle output to 63 aircraft in 2021. Hamburg recently inaugurated a new assembly line and Faury says Airbus's Chinese line in Tianjin and US line in Mobile will each increase their monthly production to six aircraft "soon".
Faury adds that the airframer is "scouting" for increased capacity from its supply chain in order to increase production still further. The company has yet to set out its targets for 2022-23 but Faury stresses that Airbus is fully considering supplier timeframes and abilities, and is not pushing for higher rates regardless.
"What we're doing is fully supported by the supply chain," he says. "We don't take bets."