Airbus turned 50. For this landmark anniversary, Europe’s leading aerospace company is keeping its eye firmly on the future: Hybrid-electric aircraft, new urban air mobility solutions and digitalisation are central pillars.
On 29 May 2019, Airbus celebrated the 50th anniversary of its foundation. On this day in 1969, German Federal Minister of Economic Affairs Karl Schiller and French Minister of Transport Jean Chamant signed the treaty to establish Airbus. It was a clear commitment to European integration. The political foresight and cross-border cooperation altered the global aerospace industry. Out of many separate aerospace companies in Europe, one global market leader emerged.
Also German politics congratulated Airbus on this anniversary.
German Federal Minister of Economy Karl Schiller and the French Minister of Transport Jean Chamant on 29 May 1969
Today, an Airbus aircraft takes off or lands every second somewhere around the world. Half of all helicopters in operation across the globe have been produced by Airbus Helicopters. And, Airbus Defence and Space maintains Europe’s independent access to space and helps ensure the continent’s security.
The leading edge of innovation
The success of Europe’s aerospace sector is rooted in a strong commitment to non-stop innovation. Now, the pace of innovation is accelerating. Digitalisation is fundamentally changing the aerospace industry, both its products and the way it produces aircraft. The key drivers are automation, big data, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence.
Airbus is a pioneer in the development of electric and hybrid aircraft. The long-term objective: zero-emission flight. To achieve this goal, Airbus develops projects such as the eFan-X, a hybrid-electric aircraft model, as well as alternative fuels.
The fully electric CityAirbus has the potential to transform urban air mobility concepts. With virtually emission-free journeys over short distances, the vertical take-off and landing aircraft will ease congestion in metropolitan areas. The learnings in electric flight can now be applied to larger aircraft.
A 50-year European success story
Winning the future
We strongly believe Germany and Europe should remain at the forefront of aerospace technology, a sector that is crucial for the continent’s competitiveness, employment, security and strategic autonomy. This will require significant commitments by industry and governments alike. Airbus invests 5% of its revenues in research and technology while German programmes such as the Aviation Research Programme (LuFo, for its abbreviation in German) are catalysts for value-adding innovations that make flying cleaner, quieter and safer. LuFo has already added 28,000 jobs and every invested Euro has a fivefold return.
From this position of strength, Germany should significantly increase its investment in innovation and technology to shape the future of this strategic sector – just as the visionaries of 1969 intended.
Status: May 2019
Around the world, more new frontiers are being drawn and protectionism is gaining ground. Europe’s aerospace group is moving in the opposite direction. The best example is the recent alliance with Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier.
Convincing aircraft, promising market
Airbus is acquiring a 50.01% stake in the C Series aircraft programme from Bombardier. The agreement should be finalised in the second half of 2018. This transatlantic partnership holds enormous potential for both parties: with its A320 family, Airbus offers aircraft starting from 150 seats. In contrast, the Bombardier C Series, which have been officially renamed the A220 Family in July 2018, seats 100 to 150 passengers, making the programme an ideal addition to Airbus’ product range. At the same time, Bombardier gains access to Airbus’ global sales and maintenance network. For aircraft of this size, global demand is expected to reach 6,000 aircraft in the next 20 years. Until now, the limited possibilities of the Canadian manufacturer have prevented what is technically-speaking a first-class aircraft from being a commercial success. The project end was looming, and development costs reaching into the billions would have been irretrievably lost.
And the winners are: Europe and Canada
It is generally unknown in this country that 4,800 Bombardier employees work on the A220 Family in Belfast in Northern Ireland. In this economically underdeveloped region, the Canadians are the largest industrial employer. Thanks to the involvement of Airbus, these jobs can now be secured in the long term. This is also true for suppliers based in Germany. And not only Europe, but Canada benefits too: the A220 Family headquarters will remain in Quebec, as will 2,000 jobs, and the Quebec aerospace cluster will be durably strengthened.
And the USA can be happy too
For the A220 Family, Airbus wants to expand its site in Alabama and do the final assembly of the A220 Family aircraft for the US market on American soil. This step will ensure commercial success in the USA. At the instigation of US group Boeing, the US government imposed punitive tariffs of around 300% on the aircraft from its Canadian neighbours. As a “made in USA” product, it will no longer be possible to apply this tariff. Victory for all those who wish to develop and provide the best and most efficient products through global collaboration.
Competition is continuing to pick up
The alliance between Bombardier and Airbus must not lead us to lose sight of the fact that the intensity of competition on the aircraft market is set to pick up significantly in coming years. New aircraft manufacturers with tremendous ambitions and substantial support from their public owners, such as Irkut and Sukhoi in Russia, and Comac in China, are pushing their way onto the market. Airbus is confidently standing up to its competitors – and scoring points thanks to innovative partnerships in particular.
Status: July 2018
Europe must become more innovative to remain globally competitive. The basis for this is education as well as research and development. The Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is therefore not only a budgetary instrument, but an expression of political priorities. Now is the time to set an example for Europe with the MFF. At the negotiations in Brussels, the German Federal Government must work to encourage more investments in research and innovation.
Cohesion funds and agricultural subsidies still account for two thirds of the EU budget. In order to ensure competitiveness, the EU should invest much more in the future of Europe. This means prioritising research and innovation in future EU budgets. Only in this way can technology leadership and highly qualified jobs be preserved in times of global upheaval.
Preserve capacity to act globally
Europe stands between the traditional economic power that is the USA and China, which has evolved from being an imitator to an innovator. With regard to a potential trade dispute with the US, Europe should focus on its own strengths. In China, a quiet educational revolution is underway, allowing the country to achieve technological dominance. Europe must prepare for these challenges.
Research aircraft A340 BLADE: low emissions thanks to the EU Clean Sky Program
Europe needs flagship projects in artificial intelligence, digitalisation, mobility and aerospace to promote innovative technologies. Therefore, the EU needs to be innovative in developing the research and innovation sector. Only this way can Europe grow intelligently and interactively.
Double the research budget
The idea of the "Innovation Union" needs sufficient investment to not just remain a political banner. In concrete terms, the EU's research framework programme budget should be doubled to 160 billion euros for it not to be left behind in pioneering innovations.
Europe does not have to be in the shadow of the US and China. The EU is still the biggest trading community worldwide. If Europe gets on the right course now, it can maintain its position as a technology leader and secure hundreds of thousands of highly qualified jobs.
More about this topic can be found in a guest article on the EU budget by Airbus CEO Tom Enders in Politico..
Status: June 2018
AProduction line and production of over 60 aircraft will become possible beginning in 2019
Every sixth passenger aircraft worldwide is produced by Airbus in Germany. Now production is being expanded by opening a fourth production line for the A320 family in Hamburg.
Towards the "factory of the future"
The new high-tech production facility sets standards in digitalisation, automation and efficiency. Thanks to numerous innovative developments and the implementation of important elements of Industry 4.0 from the middle of 2019, up to 10 aircraft per month can be assembled in the "Factory of the Future." Airbus lays the foundation for the digital future in production. These investments in Germany will enable Airbus to produce up to 60 aircraft from the bestselling A320 from next year, thus meeting the strong demand.
The new production line sets new standards in digitalization, automatization and efficiency
The world of politics pays tribute to digital manufacturing
Digitalisation makes production more efficient, protects resources and lightens the workload for employees. So, Airbus is taking a step forward in being internationally competitive and securing highly skilled jobs. Thomas Jarzombek, the German Federal Government Coordinator for Aerospace, and Frank Hoch, Senator for Economics, Transport and Innovation of the City of Hamburg spoke at the opening. Together with Guillaume Faury, President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft, and 500 guests of honour, they attended the ceremonial launch. "With the inauguration of our latest and most advanced production line for the A320 family, we are opening a new chapter in efficient digital aircraft manufacturing," said Guillaume Faury. In addition to the new production line, Airbus has also opened an enlarged and modernised delivery centre for the A320 family in Hamburg.
The A320 family is the world's most successful Single Aisle programme with over 14,000 orders and more than 8,100 aircraft delivered so far. The aircraft of the new A320neo family fly with the latest technology at least 15 percent more economically from the day of their delivery. With over 6,000 orders from 100 customers, it has captured a market share of almost 60 percent. The production of the A320 family is distributed around the world, with Airbus manufacturing facilities in Europe, China and the US.
Airbus as a pioneer in Industry 4.0
The digitalisation of production and a more flexible industrial organisation are the guarantors of Industry 4.0. The fourth production line sets new standards in both areas and thus strengthens competitiveness so that in the future Germany can continue to play a central role in the global aerospace industry.
Status: June 2018