Jürgen Thomas is likely to be remembered in future years as the "father of the A380," just as Joe Sutter is associated with the Boeing 747. Without Thomas and his determination and persistence, the Airbus A380 would not have been launched and Airbus would not have more than 60 orders and a development programme that is moving forward rapidly. Thomas is considered to be the single main driving force behind the 555-seat A380. He played a key role in the programme even before the aircraft had a name, at a time when many in the industry considered that an ultra-large airliner could never be a commercial success.

To achieve project launch and to confound the sceptics within Airbus itself, Thomas gathered a single, united and multi-disciplinary team from among the Airbus partners. He took a hands-on approach that ensured a higher level of maturity at the pre-launch phase than on any previous aircraft programme. In January 2000 Thomas and his team were required to show that the pre-development work was complete and that the project could progress to industrial launch. A number of airlines were so convinced that the A380 would meet their needs that they started announcing plans to buy before the manufacturer had even obtained authorisation to offer. That milestone was achieved in June 2000, and by year-end sufficient orders had been booked to launch the programme. "This achievement - a landmark in the history of aviation - can be largely attributed to the man whose ingenuity, commitment and steadfast conviction stimulated others to surpass themselves," according to Airbus. Thomas was the clear winner in this category. The judges felt that his drive and determination to see the A380 launched – "one of the most important issues in aviation this year" - should be recognised. "He has been swimming upstream for two years, with many saying the project would never launch or be a financial success," said one judge. Since the beginning of this year Thomas has been special advisor to Airbus chief executive officer Noel Forgeard. He is also a member of the Airbus executive committee. The A380 is set to fly in 2004.

Source: Flight Daily News