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Airbus in Germany

As one of the countries that was key to the creation of Airbus, Germany has a rich history of aircraft design and construction and is home to some of Airbus’ largest and most important operations. Working across 27 sites, employees represent close to half of the country’s entire aerospace workforce.

Airbus’ strong German roots provide an important impetus for growth and competitiveness for both the company and Germany as an industrial location. Airbus works with thousands of external suppliers in Germany and buys goods and services valued at several billions of euros.

In addition to extensive work in the commercial aircraft and rotorcraft sectors, Airbus develops cutting-edge technologies and tailor-made products that reinforce national security, including military helicopters, satellite programmes for secure military communications and the Eurofighter – Europe’s world-class multirole fighter jet.

Commercial Aircraft

Airbus’ highly-automated fuselage structure assembly line for A320 Family aircraft, located in Hamburg, is responsible for joining single fuselage shells into sections, as well as final assembly of single sections to aircraft fuselages.

Airbus’s commercial aircraft activities represent a significant percentage of all jobs in the country’s civil aviation industry.

Hamburg – the headquarters for Airbus Commercial Aircraft activities in Germany, and the biggest Airbus location in Germany – plays a central role in the development and manufacturing of all Airbus jetliners. This makes the Airbus operation adjacent at Hamburg-Finkenwerder Airport the third-largest site in the civil aviation industry worldwide.

Employees at Hamburg are central to Airbus programmes. They handle structural assembly; the equipping of fuselage sections; final assembly, and also oversee the entire A320 jetliner family’s program management. 

The Hamburg-Finkenwerder industrial facility is responsible for more than half of Airbus’ annual A320 Family output.

Airbus’ highly automated fuselage structure assembly line at Hamburg Finkenwerder is responsible for joining single fuselage shells into sections, as well as final assembly of single sections to aircraft fuselages.  

Located in Hall 245, this assembly line represents one of Airbus’ most complete and modern automated assembly processes; with a high number of digital interfaces. The assembly line is equipped with the latest robotic technology, a new logistics concept, automated positioning by laser measurement, as well as a digital data acquisition system.

Some of the major aircraft sections produced at Hamburg are shipped outside of Europe, to be used on A320 Family final assembly lines in China (at Tianjin) and the U.S. (in Mobile, Alabama).

Airbus inaugurated Hamburg’s fourth final assembly line for A320 Family in 2018. Incorporating two seven-axis robots and the use of mobile tooling platforms, it is the most modern of its kind and sets new industrial standards, offering a high degree of flexibility, automation and digitalisation in a modern and ergonomic-optimized working environment.

The site also plays a key role in the A330 and A350 XWB programmes, manufacturing and equipping the jetliners’ forward and rear fuselage sections.

Hamburg's many years of manufacturing experience in fuselage structural assembly and systems installation make this site an Airbus “Centre of Competence” for fuselage and cabin.

In the engineering domain, key competences in Hamburg revolve mainly around the development of fuselage structures, along with the cabin design, innovation and system integration. For all Airbus aircraft families, tailoring the cabin interior to airline customers’ individual definition is managed from Hamburg. For the A320 Family, A330 and A350 XWB, this takes place in the unique Airspace Customer Definition Centre (CDC), which houses the latest technologies and showrooms for a faster and easier cabin definition process.

Hamburg-Finkenwerder also is home of Airbus’ Maintenance Training Centre, where hundreds of airline employees are trained every year for their role in servicing their carriers’ aircraft.

In Bremen, approximately 2,500 people work at the second-largest Airbus Commercial site in Germany – where they are responsible for the design, manufacture, integration and testing of high-lift systems for the wings of Airbus aircraft. This site is unique for Airbus, as it brings Commercial Aircraft activities together with those of the company’s Defence and Space business, as well as Airbus’ TESTIA company and Premium Aerotech subsidiary.

Approximately 2,000 employees work at Airbus’ operation in the city of Stade, producing vertical stabilisers for Airbus aircraft. Stade also is one of the world's leading centres for carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) – the weight-saving composite material that Airbus has increasingly incorporated into its aircraft. Major components of the fuselage and wings of the A350 XWB, made of CFRP, are manufactured at Stade as well.

At Donauwörth, the facility’s primary focus is on helicopters, and also includes the manufacture of aircraft doors. Some 80% of all doors used on Airbus jetliners are produced at Donauwörth.

 

The Hamburg-Finkenwerder industrial facility is responsible for more than half of Airbus’ annual A320 Family output.

Helicopters

Airbus employs thousands at its German helicopter industrial activities, assigned to the primary sites in Donauwörth and Kassel.

Donauwörth is Airbus’ main helicopter production site in Germany, and is home to the world’s second-largest helicopter plant with a certified special helicopter landing pad.

More than manufacturing, Donauwörth is the centre of helicopter technology in Germany with several hundred engineers working in its development centre.

With Airbus’ CityAirbus multicopter vehicle demonstrator programme, Donauwörth is developing electric propulsion concepts for transport solutions of the future.

Airbus’ H135 and H145 light utility helicopters are designed and manufactured in Donauwörth. The NH90 – a transport and naval rotorcraft built in the European NHIndustries joint venture involving Airbus – is produced at Donauwörth for the Bundeswehr – the unified armed forces of Germany, and foreign customers.

Donauwörth is also home to the Military Support Centre where Bundeswehr helicopters are serviced and equipped with the latest technology.

Maintenance and repair, technical training and equipment integration for the global customer fleet are carried out by Airbus at its facility in Kassel. 

A wide-angle view of activity inside Airbus’ main helicopter production site in Donauwörth, Germany.

Donauwörth is Airbus' main location for helicopter production in Germany.

Defence and Space

The city of Manching is the centre of competence for Airbus’ military air systems activity in Germany, hosting Airbus’ contribution to the Eurofighter programme – including final assembly, system tests and flight trials the combat aircraft supplied to Germany’s air force, the Luftwaffe. Manching also services Airbus-made aircraft that are in service with the Luftwaffe.

Research and development activities in unmanned flight also take place in Manching.

In southwest Germany, Friedrichshafen is home to Airbus‘ satellite and information technology. The site is concentrated on the development of satellites, space probes, instruments and equipment for Earth observation, navigation, meteorology and space exploration. Furthermore, the site produces and develops reconnaissance and surveillance systems (C5ISR), security systems and mobile systems. Geo-intelligence products and services also are part of the portfolio of Friedrichshafen.

Airbus employees in Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen, near Munich, produce solar panels for satellites, as well as design, develop and manufacture rocket engines and thrust chambers for the Ariane 5 commercial launch vehicle. The Near Infrared Spectrograph – an instrument capable of detecting the faintest radiation from distant galaxies – is a product of Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen for use on the U.S. James Webb Space Telescope. Taufkirchen is also the headquarters for Airbus Defence and Space.

Bremen, in the northwest of the country, develops and builds the integrated fuselage assembly for the A400M military transport aircraft, including the cargo loading system.

Additionally, Bremen is a centre of competence for space transportation, manned space flight and space robotics. Its highly-skilled employees work on key programmes such as the Ariane 5 launch vehicle and the human-rated Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle – a joint project between the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA). Bremen is responsible as well for operation of European components on the International Space Station (ISS).

The Near Infrared Spectrograph is shown during integration in the Ottobrunn cleanroom.

The Near Infrared Spectrograph is shown during integration in the Ottobrunn cleanroom.

Local Partners

Through partnerships with organisations like Femtec – which promotes engineering and science among female students in Germany – Airbus is encouraging students to pursue high-tech careers by inviting them to participate in technological projects within the company.

Innovation

Research on biofuel from algae starts at Ludwig Bölkow Campus, uniting Technical University of Munich, Airbus and partners.

Airbus is one of the world’s biggest drivers of innovation. In 2019, it invested €3.4 billion in self-financed research and development – placing it among Germany’s 10 most research-oriented companies.

With Airbus holding more than 37,000 individual patents, environmentally-friendly technologies play a key role in the company's research, with the extraction of biofuels from algae being a main focus in Germany.

Furthermore Airbus, together with the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC) and the city council of Ingolstadt, have selected Ingolstadt as a pilot city for demonstrating various forms of digital mobility. In 2018, a Manifesto of Intent was signed by Airbus and such partners as the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), Audi, Munich Airport and the Technical University of Ingolstadt.

Corporate Citizenship

Airbus is committed to promoting young scientific talents. In 2012, the company launched a project at the Ludwig Bölkow Campus in Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen to enable science and industry to combine their strengths in joint research projects and promote the creation of start-up businesses. In addition to research on current issues such as “green aerospace,” students have the opportunity to pursue degrees, and a start-up centre at the campus ensures rapid knowledge transfer between the academic world and industry.

Apprenticeships in Germany – where dual education has a long tradition – have become an essential pillar for Airbus. The "Duales Studium" is such a programme, where students combine formal education with a more practical and specialised approach in a company for a period of three to five years.

Germany's future

With commercial jetliner and space activities in the northern part of the country, military aircraft business in the south, and helicopter operations in the centre, Airbus in Germany is optimally positioned for the future of aviation. Technology teams across the country are focussing on forward-looking concepts – such as unmanned and individualised air transport – that will fundamentally change the flying experience.

As a founding nation of Airbus, Germany will continue to be a key pillar for the success of the company around the world.

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