Today’s A350 XWB appearance at the 2014 ILA Berlin Air Show has the dual role of spotlighting Airbus’ newest jetliner and underscoring the company’s important industrial, engineering and research ties to Germany.
With nearly 30,000 people working directly for Airbus and its owned subsidiaries in Germany – including some 4,000 specifically involved in the A350 XWB’s development – the country is continuing key contributions that trace their roots to Airbus’ cornerstone A300 jetliner, according to President and CEO Fabrice Brégier. Adding to the employment count are the many jobs created through Airbus business within the German supply chain.
“Airbus recently was awarded the second place ranking among top German companies, which is particularly impressive when you consider all of this country’s brand name car manufacturers,” Brégier told journalists at a show-opening ILA Berlin press briefing. “It underscores the environment of Airbus as a good place to work, and reinforces Germany’s role in our success.”
Among Airbus’ activities in northern Germany are the structural assembly and equipping of fuselage sections for the A350 XWB, A330, A380 and A320 Family jetliners at the Hamburg-Finkenwerder plant. This site also is home to the final assembly line where approximately half of all A320-series aircraft are assembled, painted and delivered each year to customers around the world.
Cabin outfitting is another specialty of Hamburg in its role as the center of competence for fuselage and cabins, and where a new Customer Definition Centre (CDC) dedicated to the A350 XWB recently was inaugurated. Hamburg is the location as well for a large spares facility and 24-hour call centre at the service of Airbus customers and operators.
In Bremen, Airbus has located the responsibility for design and manufacture of wing high-lift systems on all of the company’s aircraft, with the entire process chain handled at this facility. A350 XWB and A330 wings also are fully outfitted at Bremen.
Stade is one of the world’s leading centres for the application of weight-saving composite CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic) materials. It produces the A350 XWB upper wing shell – the largest integrated carbon fibre component ever made by Airbus – along with the A350 XWB vertical tail plane, CFRP fuselage shells, as well as flaps for A320 Family aircraft and A330 spoilers, among other components.
On-board electronic communications management systems used by crew and passengers are designed and produced at Airbus’ Buxtehude site in Germany, including passenger seat service units and the cabin intercommunication data system (CIDS) that controls cabin functions. Also at Buxtehude is Airbus’ KID-SYSTEME GmbH subsidiary, which creates systems for in-seat power supply and cabin connectivity.
Research, technology and development work in Germany also has a key place in Airbus’ innovation and development. Nearly 40 per cent of the company’s engineering workforce of approximately 12,500 engineers is located in the country, with key capabilities in flight physics, fuselage structures, cabin and cargo systems, environmental control and industrial technology. More than 1,000 patents have been created during the past five years by Airbus engineering teams in Germany.
Brégier noted that the A350 XWB’s participation in today’s ILA Berlin show opening activities is highly symbolic, as it marks 40 years from the original A300 jetliner’s initial appearance at this German aerospace event.