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Airbus hopes for smoother output across 2017

Airbus is hoping for a smoother production flow over the course of this year, to avoid a repeat of the heavy rush which resulted in 111 aircraft being delivered in December.

Problems with ramping up the A350-900 – which the airframer largely attributed to cabin equipment supply – combined with engine-related delays to the A320neo resulted in a back-loading of deliveries in the second half of 2016.

Airbus delivered 390 aircraft in the last six months, 30% more than in the first six, to reach a total of 688.

December is typically a busy month for Airbus production. Since 2010 the proportion of deliveries in December has ranged from 10.2% to 13.7%, but this increased to 16.1% in 2016.

Airbus commercial aircraft president Fabrice Bregier is hoping that the company will not be forced into a similar situation this year.

“Don’t [rush] to the conclusion that this year we’ll maintain this [December] delivery [rate] across 2017,” he told a briefing in Toulouse. “We don’t intend to deliver 1,200 aircraft.”

He says the company had already anticipated that it would be back-loaded and stresses that the delivery achievement demonstrates the “very good” maturity level of the aircraft.

“You can’t deliver so many aircraft – which is about twice the normal output – in only one month without that,” he says.

“But I hope we won’t have to strike another record and will be a bit smoother during [this] year.”

He says the production issues over the first six months of 2016 were “unusually difficult”, but that a “breakthrough” with the cabin suppliers helped Airbus deliver 15 A350s in December, and come within a single airframe of meeting its target of 50 for the year.

The December push included handing four A350-900s to Singapore Airlines and three to Cathay Pacific, plus a pair to lessor AerCap – neither of which has a customer registration.

Two were delivered to China Airlines with one apiece to LATAM, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Vietnam Airlines.

Sixty A320neos were delivered in the second half, including 25 in December, as Airbus and Pratt & Whitney resolved the snags with the PW1100G powerplant which had restricted first-half deliveries to just eight jets.

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