Airbus has informed its customers today that a review of the A380 programme has shown that the delivery schedule will undergo a shift of six to seven months due to production ramp-up issues. In parallel, Airbus confirmed to its customers the satisfactory progress of the flight test campaign, which is expected to lead to certification and delivery of the first aircraft by the end of the year. The shift in the production ramp-up is likely to limit aircraft delivery to nine in 2007.
The new delays are caused by industrial issues only. They are mainly traceable to bottlenecks formed in the definition, manufacturing and installation of electrical systems and resulting harnesses.
As testing and development advances, as well as customisation specifications from airlines are integrated, modifications of electrical systems and reworks have been necessary at section level, progressively disturbing the final assembly flow. A new organisation for the equipment of sections and a revised pacing of transfer to the final assembly line have been put in place, to absorb past inventory build-up and to deal with further mitigating factors. As a result, there are currently 15 aircraft already assembled, including the static and fatigue test frames, while production of sections for aircraft serial number 36 has started.
A recent programme review has led Airbus to the conclusion that 2007 deliveries will likely be limited to nine, and that a shortfall of five to nine aircraft deliveries in 2008 and around five aircraft in 2009 could be expected, compared to initial delivery planning. The review also concluded that further actions are required to secure a ramp-up recovery in 2008 and 2009.
Today, Airbus President and CEO Gustav Humbert has ordered the immediate setting up and implementation of such a recovery action plan. Airbus also announced to regularly update airlines and all stakeholders on the progress of the recovery action plan.
Airbus is fully aware of the burden this industrial issue represents for the airlines who are anxious to begin operating the A380. Airbus is working with its customers to facilitate their operations, while ensuring a successful entry into service.
Airbus continues to be very satisfied by the performance of the A380. The aircraft handles extremely well and airline pilots who have already flown the aircraft, report enthusiastically about it. Overall, the aircraft have performed more than 1,400 flight hours in over 430 flights and 950 take-offs. Results are as predicted. All the tests performed, including at airports, indicate that the A380 will meet or exceed the expectations. Also first results of the cabin tests are encouraging. Since the first flight of the first A380 in Toulouse on 27th April 2005, four more aircraft have taken to the air. The first two are heavily involved in the flight test campaign, two more are used for cabin testing and the fifth one is currently undergoing customisation and cabin furnishing in Hamburg to be ready for first aircraft delivery at the end of 2006.