Julian Moxon/PARIS Chris Jasper/LONDON

The creation of the Airbus Integrated Company took place as planned on 1 January, although remaining legal formalities mean that the company will not be officially launched until around mid-February.

The legal issues relate to gaining new regulatory approvals to allow for the integration of programmes, engineering and manufacturing functions into transnational organisations. Airbus says the company is nevertheless "up and running", and that the legal changes will be retroactive to 1 January.

Agreed last June by the two shareholders, EADS and BAE Systems, the company - expected to be known simply as "Airbus" - will consolidate all Airbus Industrie resources and know-how into a single entity with its headquarters at Toulouse.

According to Gustav Humbert, chief operating officer of the new company, efficiency savings will amount to c350 million ($308 million) annually by 2004. He says savings will come from eliminating transnational lines of command, aligning production processes, creating a single management team and grouping procurement activities to "bring the power of a large organisation to bear on suppliers". The Airbus company will employ around 41,000 people and work with 1,500 suppliers.

Humbert says there will be "no brutal restructuring", and the present system of producing main aircraft segments in centres of competence will be retained "because it has already led to an efficient production setup". The proportion of work outsourced to suppliers will be increased from 45% to "at least 52%", however, in an effort to reduce the impact on Airbus itself of the boom-bust nature of the cyclical aircraft market.

With the industrial launch of the A380 complete, Airbus has also shaken up its programme management team. Jurgen Thomas, previously senior vice-president (VP) large aircraft division, becomes special advisor to the company's chief executive, Noel Forgeard. He is replaced as A380 supremo by Frenchman Charles Champion, currently senior VP single aisle programmes, and a former managing director of the Airbus Military Company, who becomes senior vice-president A380 programme.

Champion is succeeded as A320 family chief by German Gerhard Puttfarcken, who was previously A3XX programme chief at DASA Airbus. A five-strong team in charge of the integration, organisation and development of the new Airbus company is due to be announced within the next month.

Source: Flight International