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  • Comment: Fixing A380 production...take two

Comment: Fixing A380 production...take two

Another year, and another effort by Airbus to fix A380 production. In a second attempt to resolve what the airframer admits is an over-complex production process, it is fine-tuning the way its various plants work together to avoid duplication and prevent problems being passed to the next link in the chain.

Airbus boss Tom Enders warns that even with these problems being solved, the ultra-large aircraft looks set to be a "financial liability for years to come".

But while Airbus can point fingers at others for the mess in which it finds the A400M programme, the problems with the A380 are all of its own making. Yes, the A380 is a complicated piece of machinery, and yes, everything inside it is on a scale never seen before in civil aircraft production. But surely the A380's size and complexity alone cannot be the single cause of such huge headaches?

When bringing the world's previous giant airliner to market 40 years ago, Boeing faced similarly sized headaches. But there were 100 747s in service within one year of the first. Two and a half years on from the first A380 delivery, just 23 have reached their customers.

Enders' "plant fixer", chief operating officer Fabrice Bregier, talks of taking integration "a step further" and of a "change of mindset" being needed if output is to reach the required level. For Airbus, these can't come a moment too soon.

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