Airbus is gradually emerging from the Corona crisis and plans to ramp up production. The new logistics centre Skyhub in Hamburg now enables significantly more efficient operations and flexible rate increases for the post-pandemic periods. This lighthouse project strengthens Hamburg as a global hub for civil aviation. This also reinforces the overarching objective: The aircraft of the future comes from Germany and Europe.
The Corona crisis has hit the aeronautics industry particularly hard and has turned many production plans upside down. With the gradual resumption of global air traffic, production rates are also rising again. Now a new logistics centre for the production has been opened in Hamburg in order to be able to react more flexibly in the future and to make production even more efficient.
Skyhub enables production from a single source
The new logistics centre gives Airbus more control over the entire production process for its most important product group, the A320 Family aircraft models. Logistics and supply chain will be even better integrated and controlled by Airbus. This is the basis for the industrial ramp-up in the production. This is particularly crucial for the aircraft final assembly lines. These can now be served directly from the warehouse – and even supplied to the final assembly plants in Mobile in the Alabama and in Tianjin in northern China. Thus, the complete kits for these two plants are assembled and shipped in Hamburg.
Airbus strengthens Hamburg location with a new logistics centre.
Greater added value secures jobs on the ground
Airbus plans to increase its monthly production rates to 70 aircraft per month, after reducing the rate to 40 last year due to Corona. In particular, the new single-aisle long-haul jet A321XLR plays an important role and promises to further strengthen the location. The share of the Hamburg site in the total production of civil aircraft at Airbus will thus increase in the medium term. The planned ramp-up of production will therefore have positive effects on local employment. For example, the new logistics centre will contribute to the growth of the Hamburg site.
Small and large pieces organised directly
Skyhub serves as a storage facility for numerous aircraft components. For example, a special lift enables the uncomplicated transport of carpet rolls, a small parts system serves as a conveyor belt for a large number of individual parts, and illuminants for emergencies are stored in a safety room. Landing gear is stored on shelves and on hall floors, and complete sets of aircraft seats are also available there. Suppliers can thus identify defects directly and rectify them on the spot. This process saves having to return and reship the parts and makes the entire process more efficient.
New logistics centre will become a main pillar in the aircraft production
Airbus's Hamburg site not only delivers more than half of all A320 Family aircraft. Hamburg also plays a key role in the further development and programme management of the product family, which will be further expanded in the future. The logistics centre is thus an important building block to expand the Hamburg portfolio. This strengthens Hamburg as one of three global hubs for civil aviation – benefiting employees and the region alike.
Status: Sept 2021
Aircraft production is being automated and digitalised. New technologies are being deployed for a new project in Hamburg. For this project, specialised robots take over important tasks and work hand in hand with the workforce. This makes aircraft production more efficient, cheaper and safer. Germany as a business location benefits directly from this. The possible spill-over effects of the technology also create advantages for the entire industry.
The aircraft of the future will be digital, and so will their production. In the very near future, aircraft will be built differently than what we know today. In the early development phase, production is taken into account, which accelerates the entire process from development to entry into service of the aircraft. On the one hand, numerous work steps are being digitalised; so-called digital twins are already supporting the development and testing of many functions. In addition to the increase in speed, digitalisation reduces the amount of resources needed for aircraft development. On the other hand, the use of digital technologies helps to track and understand processes more precisely. The data collected in the process enables better a prediction of material developments before and during the aircraft’s operation. This leads to safer aviation.
Automation makes manufacturing cheaper, more efficient and safer
In addition, automation helps to simplify particularly heavy and complex processes. One example is Airbus's state-of-the-art fuselage structure assembly line in Hamburg that uses 20 robots. Autonomous robots substantially improve the working environment of employees by working hand in hand with them. For instance, modular robots provide ad-hoc support to employees working in aircraft construction. Another example we have are intelligent transport systems, that help to transport large components more flexibly. This relieves employees of particularly hefty tasks and makes the process more efficient.
Individualised production will be possible
Digitalisation and automation also enable the production of individualised aircraft, even in a serial production. These customised aircraft, with ever more airline-specific interiors, represent a quantum leap in aviation and make flying an even more individualised experience.
Close cooperation with the Bundeswehr University
Alongside the research work carried out at the Center of Applied Aeronautical Research (ZAL) in Hamburg, the Bundeswehr Technology Research is also a partner of Airbus for these projects. Jointly funded, Airbus supplies the data from aircraft production in Hamburg to the Helmut Schmidt University of the German Armed Forces, to help them for their research. In turn, the Bundeswehr University can virtually recreate the Airbus Hamburg production line.
Germany becomes more attractive as a business location
These digitalisation and automation steps strengthen Germany as one of the world's leading locations for civil aviation. This competitive edge helps to secure highly qualified local jobs. In addition, the findings of the projects help to make industrial manufacturing more efficient overall. Substantial spill-over effects on other industrial sectors are to be expected, thus strengthening Germany's overall competitiveness.
Status: Aug 2021
Air cargo has proved its importance to people and organisations worldwide during the Corona crisis. Thanks to air connections, supply chains remained intact and functional around the world and the supply of important goods was ensured. This underlines the importance of aviation as a lifeline for Europe and the world. With the A350F, a game changer for air cargo is entering the market.
Air cargo has played a key role in the fight against the pandemic. Essential medical supplies, masks and materials were transported around the globe in a very short time, helping numerous countries worldwide to contain the pandemic. At the same time, online direct shipping soared, leading to an unprecedented growth in the airfreight market.
The Corona crisis has underlined the importance of air cargo: Now comes the A350F.
High-tech made in Germany connects markets and people
Many of the aircraft in service around the world were developed, built or converted in Germany: with the A330F and the future A350F, highly specialised Airbus aircraft are mainstays of international air freight, connecting people and countries even in times of crises.
Unchallenged for fast transport
Air cargo is unrivalled in speed and simplicity. In addition to purpose-built freighter aircraft, passenger aircraft are often converted as freighters, such as the A321P2F. With the A321P2F, A330-200F, A330P2F and A350F options, Airbus offers a flexible portfolio for air cargo. Unique in the world are the BelugaST and BelugaXL transport aircraft for larger objects and highly specialised cargo, which are currently only used within Airbus for inter-plant transport.
A converted A350F as a model for the future
The increased demand for air cargo offers great potential for the A350F. The first delivery is scheduled for 2025. The A350F is based on the A350-1000 and will be able to carry a total capacity of over 90 tonnes.
Air freight continues to gain in importance. With the world's most modern long-haul jet, the A350, Airbus offers a model that combines efficiency and range, and meets strict climate requirements. This reduces emissions and operating costs in air freight, which is good for logistics and the climate. The future belongs to the A350F as a cargo aircraft.
Status: Aug 2021
The new Airbus A321XLR will fundamentally change aviation. This is because the new Airbus model flies considerably further than all previous aircraft with a single-aisle, and is once again significantly more efficient. This combination makes it twice as attractive for airlines. German Airbus sites play a central role in the development and production of the bestselling A320 family.
The single-aisle long-haul aircraft of the future, the A321XLR, is coming into shape. The front fuselage is currently being assembled in Saint-Nazaire (FR) and the structural assembly of the middle and rear fuselage sections in Hamburg-Finkenwerder (GER). The latest model of the successful A320 family will secure thousands of jobs in Germany and is scheduled to enter into service by 2023.
The Airbus A321XLR is changing long-haul flying.
Greater flight range thanks to new tank technology
The A321XLR flies further than any of its predecessors. Thanks to innovative tank technology, the long-range queen can fly up to 8,700 kilometres, surpassing its predecessor by another 15%. This makes non-stop connections such as Rome-New York, London-Delhi or Sydney-Tokyo in a single-aisle possible. The reason for this is a new tank system: the fixed tank behind the main landing gear makes maximum use of the existing structure and the entire fuselage cross-section of the cargo hold. This offers a significantly increased tank volume.
Modernisation is the best climate protection
The A321 significantly reduces fuel consumption per passenger kilometre. Compared to previous generations, fuel consumption is reduced by up to 20%. The use of the A321 thus pays off for airlines in several ways: the increased range opens up new destination possibilities while emissions and operating costs are substantially reduced. At the same time, the A321XLR, with its smaller number of seats compared to conventional long-haul aircraft, can be used more flexibly, e.g. on less frequented routes. The early entry into service is thus an important step towards more climate protection in aeronautics.
Airspace cabin ensures a comfortable flight
The A321XLR also ensures a comfortable flight experience. For example, the aircraft configuration allows for up to five lavatories to be installed in the cabin for long-haul flights with two-class seating. The fresh and service water tanks are to be enlarged and the temperature and noise insulation improved. LED lighting and design elements on the ceiling will create a friendly and open ambience. Time-of-day simulation is possible, which supports the biorhythm on long-haul flights. In addition, the overhead bins offer 60% more storage space. This makes the flight overall more pleasant and enables a stress-free journey.
Overall, the A321XLR represents a milestone for aviation. For the first time, a single-aisle will fly regularly on long-haul routes, enabling a quantum leap in efficiency. This is a win-win situation for airlines and the climate.
Status: July 2021
In 2021, aviation is on the threshold of climate-neutral flying. After Airbus presented its concepts for the first climate-neutral aircraft last year, it is now important to set the political course. Because only together industry, politics, research and society can ensure that the climate-neutral aircraft of the future will come from Germany and Europe. A potential mega-topic – for the election year 2021 – and beyond.
Policymakers must now set the right course to ensure that the aircraft of the future comes from Germany and Europe.
Is Germany leading or following in climate-neutral flying?
Nations around the world that want to be leaders in high technologies invest in the aerospace industry, first and foremost the USA and China. This industry stands for innovation and high-tech like no other. On the global market, only the companies which offer technologies that make flying cleaner, quieter and more comfortable are and will be successful.
German industrial policy and technology promotion must therefore be increasingly geared towards keeping Germany and Europe at the forefront of global competition while preserving its national sovereignty. In concrete terms, this means strengthening aeronautics research with a focus on "climate-neutral flying" and organising and financing a technology demonstrator programme – in compliance with WTO and EU state aid law.
Flying sustainably thanks to alternative aviation fuels
In the short and medium-term, as well as on long-haul routes, sustainable aviation fuels have the most promising potential to directly reduce emissions. There is no panacea, but the full range of sustainable resources and technologies must be harnessed. The power-to-liquid route (PtL) is particularly promising from an ecological point of view, and the PtL roadmap sets out the path to implementation. This roadmap must now be implemented quickly in order to make sustainable fuels widely available and reduce costs. Already today, a modern aircraft in the Airbus fleet can run on 50 per cent sustainable fuels. In the future, this will be 100 per cent. Competitive, alternative aviation fuels directly reduce aviation emissions and contribute significantly to climate-neutral flying.
Modernisation is the best climate protection
The latest aircraft models are up to 25% more efficient and climate-friendly than their predecessors. The accelerated renewal of aircraft fleets thus contributes significantly to reducing emissions. Therefore, the 'aviation innovation premium' anchored in the economic stimulus package must now be made available quickly.
Now it is time to set the course for the future. Especially for the prosperity of an export nation like Germany, aviation is of crucial importance. Therefore, it is of central importance to accompany aviation into climate-neutrality. Germany and Europe have the best prerequisites to become a hub of climate-neutral flying. Political action is needed now to ensure that the energy transition in the skies succeeds and Germany remains the world-market leader. Projects and offers towards a low-emission aviation and the targeted development of a hydrogen economy should be at the centre of an innovation and promotion strategy. Especially for hydrogen as a direct energy carrier, not only production, but also an entire ecosystem with supply, logistics and infrastructure must be secured. Until then, it is a matter of phasing out old, inefficient aircraft and increasingly fuelling the existing fleet with sustainable fuel. This will quickly make a big difference and will further reduce emissions.
Status: July 2021
On 18 June 2021, leading representatives from politics, industry and science will meet to make aviation fit-for-future. In the frame of the 2nd National Aviation Conference, the strengthening of aviation after the Corona crisis will be discussed and the pathway to climate neutrality will be paved. One thing is certain: Germany must become the technological leader for green aviation flight.
Aviation enables the fight against the pandemic
The industry has succeeded to secure the delivery of basic supplies to people and businesses during the crisis. The aviation industry has helped maintain supply chains active despite operational hurdles and airports have secured the key infrastructure. In a similar vein, the industrial base of the aviation industry in Germany has demonstrated an impressive resilience to date – in part, thanks to strong support from policymakers.
Mastering crises, securing the future
Together, the aviation industry and air transport sector employ hundreds of thousands of people with a wide range of professional qualifications. In order to secure jobs and know-how in the future, it is now a matter of mastering the crisis in a sustainable manner and working on the future challenges. The German industry is well prepared for this.
The National Aviation Conference paves the way for climate-neutral aviation.
Towards climate-neutral flight
One thing is certain: climate and environmental protection as well international competitiveness must be in the centre. They form the basis of sustainable success after the crisis. The German industry has the necessary know-how for it. With ever more efficient existing technologies, an increased market placement of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and the commissioning of a climate-neutral aircraft from 2035 by Airbus, the path to climate-neutral aviation is mapped out. It is now up to political decision-makers to set the right course. In addition to a strong commitment to promote high technology with Research funding, this requires the set-up of an infrastructure for green hydrogen and SAF. Only this way, it can be ensured that the aircraft of the future comes from Germany and Europe.
Aviation decision-makers meet in Berlin
Mastering these challenges will be the focus of the 2nd National Aviation Conference on 18 June 2021 at BER. The adoption of a joint declaration by political decision-makers, trade unions and industry will provide the necessary impulses and planning security. Chaired by German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel, the Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer and Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier will discuss as well as Adina Vălean, EU Commissioner for Transport will discuss the future of aviation, alongside industry representatives such as Dirk Hoke, CEO Airbus Defence and Space, Michael Schöllhorn, COO of Airbus, and leading science representatives such as Prof. Dr Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Chair of the DLR Executive Board.
Aviation is facing the greatest challenge of its existence. The Corona crisis has a significant impact on this industry of great strategic importance. Collapses in demand and production, as well as significant demands on border entry, testing and hygiene are creating major difficulties for the aviation industry, airports, air traffic control and air carriers. At the same time, the industry is taking on the challenge of decarbonisation, which can only be mastered with disruptive innovations.
Registration for the digital participation is still possible:
Status: Juni 2021
The Corona pandemic denotes the severest crisis for decades. Within an extremely short time, Airbus launched several aid initiatives. At the same time, space technology connects people worldwide. Users of Airbus’ products bring state-of-the-art aircraft into action, saving lives in emergencies every day.
Crucial supplies for Europe
Protective masks are currently more vital than ever. Europe’s supply is particularly important. Airbus recently initiated air-bridge flights with an A330MRTT and an A330-800, transported millions of urgently needed face masks from China and donated them to hospitals and public services throughout Europe. An A400M thereby supported in distributing the freight from different sites in Europe to the recipients. The air freighter BelugaST transported the first batch of face masks for the German government to Hamburg.
Several million face masks were conveyed by an A350-1000 via the Airbus air-bridge from China to Germany and thereafter to France in order to pass them to the governments of the Airbus home countries - Spain, France, the UK and Germany; supporting COVID-19 measures of containment throughout Europe.
Further to the transport of critical medical goods, Airbus now also produces ventilators and visual covers with 3D printers.
Unloading of the A330MRTT in Getafe, Spain.
Air-bridge between European countries
Hospitals in northern Italy find themselves in a dramatic emergency situation. Capacities are fully utilized and many patients need urgent treatment. The German Armed Forces therefore operate with an Airbus A310 MedEvac. Up to 44 seriously ill patients may be transported in this flying intensive care unit. This mission is now being reinforced by an A400M. As early as last week, the German Armed Forces used an A400M to evacuate patients from France.
Users of Airbus‘ products deploy the A400M also to transport ill patients. This military aircraft also served the Turkish Air Force to deliver medical equipment to Spain and Italy. Thus, time-critical medical appliances, such as face masks, overalls and antibacterial liquids may be delivered within a short time frame.
Loading of the A400M in Getafe, Spain.
Assistance by air
The French Army used NH90 helicopters to evacuate 10 COVID-19 patients from France’s Grand Est region to areas in France, Germany and Switzerland that have been less affected by the outbreak. Emergency rescue helicopters like the Airbus H145, H125 and H130 are inter alia equipped with ventilators, allowing an in-air treatment. When every minute counts, helicopters are a patient’s best chance. Such as a female corona patient, who has been given artificial respiration aboard a H145 of the ADAC air rescue and been to flown to a specialized hospital last weekend.
Unloading of the air freighter BelugaST.
Environmental change shown by satellite
Restrictions imposed on the public life in large parts of Europe change the environment. Latest images of Copernicus satellite Sentinel-5P show a strong decline of the nitrogen dioxide concentration over several big cities in Europe. This environmental monitoring satellite shows significant changes over Paris, Madrid and Rome compared to previous data (Link to images of ESA).
The crisis also has a major impact on the aerospace industry. Still Airbus will continue to contribute their expertise and capacities so that together, we shall overcome this pandemic.
Status: April 2020
Airbus is enlarging its ‘Airspace Customer Definition Centre' (CDC) at its location in Hamburg for the A320 and A330. The investments strengthen the importance of the location and will secure employment in Hamburg.
Hamburg is one of the three biggest centres for civil aviation worldwide. Every sixth aircraft delivered globally comes from the Elbe river. The location is the heart of the A320 programme as well as one of the most important international delivery centres for the A320 family in the world. Now, the location has been strengthened further.
The expansion of the high-tech cabin centre strengthens Hamburg as an important location for aviation.
Cabins gain importance
The 'Airspace Customer Definition Centre' (CDC) is a strategic investment in the growing market of aircraft cabins. Through the long-haul capabilities of the A320 family and the continued development of the A330neo, the cabins of this aircraft family have become more specialised while offering more adaptations. This trend takes into account the innovative showroom. The CDC meets the call by presenting the customers individual designs and inspiration in a realistic virtual world format.
Since its opening in 2014, the CDC has been used by A350-XWB customers. Starting now, this renowned concept of a faster, simpler and high-tech cabin design process is open to all three of the Airbus aircraft families: the A350, the A330 and the A320.
The cabin of the future will come from Hamburg
With the investments in the CDC, Airbus emphasises the importance of Hamburg as the location for worldwide aircraft manufacturing. This secures highly-skilled jobs in Hamburg and Germany, while also maintaining Germany's competitive advantage in a strategic future-oriented industry.
Status: June 2019