As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of commercial and military aircraft, Airbus has an industrial presence that spans the globe – with the company’s own manufacturing, production and sub-assembly of parts distributed across 15 sites in Europe, and final assembly lines located in France, Germany, Spain and China.
“Airbus is multi-national by birth, and we have always broken work down and then coordinated it,” said Simon Ward of Airbus’ Strategy and Future Programmes department. “The massive cost of development and the premium on skills mean that anyone in our industry has to work globally to succeed.”
The company’s approach to internalisation is characterised by mutually-beneficial business relationships. To underscore this point, Ward pointed to Airbus’ successful cooperation with the nation of Turkey. A decade ago, the vast majority of Turkish Aerospace Industries’ (TAI) work at their main facility in Ankara was for American-based companies.
Airbus conducted thorough research and realised that there was a potential win-win situation: Turkey wanted to develop its aeronautical industry at a faster rate, and Airbus aimed to do more business in a country dominated by its competitors.
The relationship began with small parts, and over time moved onto sub-assemblies and assemblies. Now, TAI is a full partner in the A400M programme, a share holder of Airbus Military and a risk-sharing partner for the next-generation A350 XWB jetliner.
“What we have nurtured at TAI over the least eight years is obviously good for our supply chain, but there are wider benefits for Airbus,” said Ward. “When we work in Turkey, we’re now working with trusted friends.”