In 2013, Airbus implemented a new production organisation in managing the steep and steady ramp-up of industrial activities to meet continued strong demand, while also achieving higher performance levels across the company’s series and development programmes.
This organisation is accomplishing these goals through further integration, full cross-functional alignment and even more teamwork in Airbus’ production activities.
On a structural level, the organisation empowers Airbus plants responsible for delivering aircraft components to the individual Airbus final assembly lines, and provides the necessary resources and leverage. In addition, more support will be given to engineering and the supply chain for dealing with day-to-day challenges.
Primary changes to the production organisation focused on the empowerment of Airbus’ production sites – co-locating key contributing functions like engineering, procurement and quality, and putting them under the operational leadership of a plant head. This ensures a further integration into operations to secure deliveries.
The production activities previously performed by Airbus’ Centres of Excellence are now under responsibility and management of the individual plants, which interact directly with the Central Programme Organisations. The larger Airbus production organisation has accountability for final assembly line commitments.
Also, a new Operational Excellence Centre of Competence was created to define and deploy Airbus’ industrial strategy and ensure “best-in-class” industrial standards for Airbus and the extended enterprise. This evolution supports Airbus’ long-term “Vision 2020,” particularly in regard to integration efforts.
Airbus’ Hamburg site manages structural assembly and outfitting of fuselage sections, as well as final assembly for A320 Family aircraft. This plant also is home to Airbus' A380 major component assembly hall – which houses the structural assembly, equipping of the forward and complete rear fuselage sections, along with cabin furnishing, painting and delivery to customers in Europe and the Middle East. In addition, the Hamburg plant manufactures and equips the rear fuselage sections for Airbus’ A330 and A350 XWB programmes.
The company’s Bremen site is responsible for design and manufacturing of high-lift systems for the wings on all Airbus aircraft. Wings for the A330 and A350 XWB are delivered to Bremen from Airbus’ plant in Broughton, UK, and are fully equipped with all relevant systems.
The vertical tail planes of all Airbus aircraft are produced at Stade. The site also makes other carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) components – such as flaps for single-aisle A320 Family aircraft, and spoilers for the A330. Pressure bulkheads for the A330 and A380 are part of Stade's production responsibilities. For the A350 XWB, this site produces the upper wing shell, along with the jetliner’s vertical tail plane and CFRP fuselage shells.
All the electronic communications and cabin management systems needed by both crew and passengers are designed and produced at the Buxtehude site in Germany. They include the cabin intercommunication data system used to control cabin functions, and the passenger service units for passenger seating system controls.
Toulouse’s responsibilities include engineering (general design, systems and integration tests, definition of the structure and more), structure testing and a materials processes development centre, systems organisation, flight tests, the Beluga hangar and one of Airbus’ three delivery centres. It also hosts final assembly lines for the A320, A350 XWB and A330 – including the cabin furnishing and painting – as well as the A380’s final assembly and preparation for flight.
Toulouse Saint-Eloi is responsible for delivering equipped and tested pylons to the final assembly lines. Its primary activities include the design of pylon and propulsion systems, integration and manufacturing of pylon and nacelle components including hard metal transformation, pylon sub-assembly and pylon integration for all Airbus aircraft – including “new engine option” jetliners like the A320neo and A330neo.
The Saint-Nazaire plant specialises in structural assembly, equipping and testing of front and central fuselage sections for the entire Airbus family. It receives sub-assemblies to be fitted for the forward fuselage for the A320 Family, the forward and central fuselage for the A330 and A380 families, and the nose fuselage for the A350 XWB. Saint-Nazaire also is in charge of equipping and testing these sections before delivering them to various final assembly lines.
Nantes specialises in the manufacturing and assembly of the centre wing boxes for all Airbus aircraft, and is a leader in the manufacture of Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic structural parts – such as the A350 XWB keel beam. Nantes also is responsible for manufacturing the radomes for the entire Airbus family, the ailerons for the A330 and A380 families and air inlets for the A350 XWB, A380 families and A320neo.
Located in North Wales, Airbus’ Broughton site assembles wings for the entire family of commercial aircraft, producing over 1,000 wings per year. Its activities include wing skin milling, stringer manufacture, full wing equipping and wing box assembly.
Filton is the other UK-based site for Airbus, with its engineering and research & technology groups responsible for wing design, landing gear and fuel systems design and testing; and manufacturing of components.
Getafe, located in central Spain, specialises in aeronautical component engineering, design, production and assembly. The plant is the delivery centre for final assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg for all the programs with the exception of the A380 – a role it shares with the Puerto Real plant in Cádiz. Getafe uses metallic material and advanced composite materials to manufacture fuselage for all Airbus aircraft and specialises in the final assembly, systems testing and testing of all horizontal tail planes, for all Airbus aircraft; rear fuselage and tail cone of the A380 and rear fuselage of the A350 XWB. Getafe is also responsible for the A380’s main landing gear doors.
Airbus’ Illescas site is a leader in the manufacture of composite aeronautical components, mainly large-scale or complex shaped parts as the A350 XWB’s wing lower cover. The components manufactured in Illescas for Airbus models are: the stabilisers, rudders and spars, sections of rear fuselage and landing gear components for the A380, sections of the rear fuselage and internal skin of the wing for the Airbus A350 XWB.
Located in the south of Spain, Puerto Real specialises in automated assembly of movable surfaces (rudders and spars) for all Airbus jetliner programmes. It also is responsible for final equipment and delivery to the final assembly line of large, complex structural components – such as the horizontal tail plane and belly fairing of the A380 fuselage, and produces the horizontal tail plane boxes of the A350 XWB.
In September 2015, Airbus opened an A320 Family jetliner final assembly line in Mobile, along the Gulf Coast of Alabama – officially called the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility. The assembly line is the company’s first U.S.-based production facility; the site began aircraft assembly in 2015, delivering the first Mobile-assembled jetliner in 2016.
The company’s second U.S.-based commercial aircraft production facility – an A220 final assembly line – is also located in Mobile; aircraft manufacturing officially began at the site in August 2019.
Airbus produces its single-aisle A220 Family aircraft for customers outside of the U.S. at the Mirabel final assembly line in Quebec, Canada through the Airbus Canada Limited Partnership – held 75% by Airbus and 25% by the Government of Québec.
The A220 programme’s dedicated functions – including engineering, customer support & services and all other support functions – also are located in Mirabel.