As the first A320neo (new engine option) jetliner moves into its final assembly phase, Airbus is taking the necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition from the company’s A320ceo (current engine option) version – while factoring in the production rate increase announced recently across its single-aisle product line.
Final assembly of the initial A320neo flight test aircraft began this week in Toulouse, France. According to Klaus Roewe, Airbus' Senior Vice President A320neo Family, the NEO jetliner’s industrial maturity is high – aided by its 95 per cent airframe commonality with the A320ceo.
To meet the unprecedented demand for NEO – the first delivery of which is planned in 2015 – as well as the continuing need for CEO aircraft, Airbus is increasing monthly production rates from 42 – already an all-time high for a commercial jetliner – to 46.
“We will reach rate 46 for CEO production in Q2 2016, after an intermediate step of rate 44 in Q1 2016,” explained Daniel Baubil, Airbus Executive Vice President and Head of the A320 Family Programme. Production ramp up for NEO will be a steady increase from 2015 to reach the capability of being at full NEO production in 2018.
Simultaneously managing the production rate increase while transitioning from CEO to NEO is a task for which the various Airbus production sites and company employees are ready.
“Everyone is committed to demonstrating that we can deliver what we plan,” said Mario Heinen, Head of Production People are engaged and motivated to make this a smooth transition.”
Heinen added that Airbus has taken many anticipative actions to be successful and avoid bottlenecks in the industrial system and with its suppliers.
“The teams have done an excellent job so far: the first NEO has been delivered to the final assembly line at same quality as the CEO, which makes me confident,” Heinen continued. “The true challenge is to repeat this aircraft after aircraft. We have to stay focused, vigilant, engaged and highly reactive.”