Airbus is directly in charge of the A380 programme. A major unit of EADS, the European Aeronautic, Defence and Space company, is was formed out of the merger of the French (Aerospatiale-Matra), German (DaimlerChrysler Aerospace) and the Spanish (Construccionnes Aeronauticas SA) partners which hold holding 80%, and Britain's BAE Systems, with 20%.

France is responsible for building the cockpit and the centre wing box, along with the final aircraft assembly of the aircraft and flight tests.

The Aeroconstellation final assembly site, adjacent to the Toulouse-Blagnac airport, should be complete by end of next year, in readiness for the arrival of the first A380 sections and subassemblies. Commensurate with the dimensions of the aircraft, the main building will be 460m (1,500ft) long, 250m wide and 46m high, covering the equivalent of 20 rugby fields and dwarfing the Clement Ader huge plant specially built 15 years ago for assembly of the A330/A340 widebodied airliners.


At Nantes, on France's Atlantic coast, site of the assembly of the A380 centre wing box, a first ‘layup machine' has been producing the carbonfibre panels for this centre section – a world first in commercial aviation – since January. A second machine is on the way and a third will be operational in March 2003.

The main innovation of this new carbonfibre panel production results in a 50% reduction in the manufacturing cycle and cost savings, as in 80% of cases the cutting operation is simple and done directly by the machine. Metal cutting is also well under way at another facility, in nearby Saint Nazaire.

Britain is in charge of the vital wings. BAE Systems and its forerunners have designed and built the wing sets for 3,000 aircraft of the various Airbus families sold since the company's creation 35 years ago.

BAE Systems is constructing a state-of-the-art assembly plant at Broughton, specially for the A380 wings. Some major subassemblies will be assembled at Filton and transported to Broughton. Metal cutting for the wing is already under way, with the first wing going into jig in late spring of 2003 and dispatched to Toulouse early in 2004.

Germany is responsible for the fuselage and internal finishing. New facilities will include two paint shops, a pre-flight hangar and a run-up plant.

In Varel, plants are turning out new milling machines, and in Nnordenham, laser beam welding equipment. In Bremen, a new flap track test rig is set up for system tests. From a quay on the river Elbe, fuselage sections will be shipped directly from Hamburg to Saint Nazaire and Bordeaux and by road on to Toulouse-Blagnac.

Spain has the task of manufacturing the tail surfaces, with special competence in producing lightweight carbon materials

Source: Flight Daily News