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Why Did Airbus Wait So Long To Build A Narrowbody?  
User currently offlineIslandHopper From United States of America, joined Feb 2003, 327 posts, RR: 2
Posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 4490 times:

Airbus built its A300 in the early 70s, yet it waited until the late 80s to enter the narrowbody market with the A320. Why did they wait so long? The sales numbers for the 737 and DC9/MD80 must have been tempting to tap into. The reasons I can think of:

1. The A300 wasn't really successful until the 80s, only then did Airbus have the resources and reputation to enter the narrowbody market.

2. The failure of the Dassault Mercure scared them away from narrowbodies for awhile. Why didn't Airbus ever try to take over the Mercure program and make a success of it? Today we might be seeing Mercure NGs instead of A320s.  Smile

3. Airbus thought air travel would keep increasing and narrowbodies would not be big sellers anymore.

You're opinions?

14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineGreg From United Kingdom, joined May 2005, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 4418 times:

I'm sure it was money. The A300 didn't start generating any revenue for ten years. And the 310 was not quite the unqualified success they had hoped (particularly since it needed a new wing..).

At any rate, the 320 hit the market at the right time....the rest is history.


User currently offlineN79969 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 4380 times:

My view is that Airbus started out as a European prestige/jobs program. Thus they went after the more prestigious widebody market rather than a narrowbody.

As Airbus evolved from a pure jobs program to a normal company (an ongoing process), they realized the needed a range of products. Further if they manufactured narrowbodies, they probably figured they could sell the large volumes necessary to generate economies of scale that are not possible if you only make large widebody airplanes. (This last notion is pure guesswork)

The 319/320 are truly innovative products.


User currently offlineScorpio From Belgium, joined Oct 2001, 5014 posts, RR: 44
Reply 3, posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 4287 times:

N79969,

My view is that Airbus started out as a European prestige/jobs program. Thus they went after the more prestigious widebody market rather than a narrowbody.

We are all aware of your obsession with the evil Airbus and the Evil Socialists, but please don't make things up as you go along...

Why a widebody, not a narrowbody? Two reasons: 1) Airbus was called into existance mainly because individual European companies could no longer compete with US giants like Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed. They had the resources to build narrowbody aircraft (1-11, Mercure,...) but not to build a widebody. They did not plan to build widebodies, because some of the companies who were planning to get into Airbus had their individual programs.

2) When Boeing developed the 747, and Douglas and Lockheed developed the DC-10 and L-1011, there was a considerable gap between them and the DC-8/ 707, which had been the largest till then. Furthermore, European airlines predicted they would need a 250-300 seater for short haul routes to cover growth in the 70s. Two different groups were already working on two different programs before the government were even involved.

There was simply never talk of a narrowbody. The A300 was not a 'jobs program' created by the Evil Socialists, it was mainly market-driven programs, thought up by the manufaturers.


User currently offlineN79969 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 4253 times:

Scorpio,

As we are all well aware of your continuing delusion that Airbus made economic sense.


User currently offlineSolnabo From Sweden, joined Jan 2008, 850 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 4183 times:

.....and a twinjet-widebody 1974????
Must have shaken the Big boys "over there" Laugh out loud

"Old" Michael/SE



Airbus SAS - Love them both
User currently offlineScorpio From Belgium, joined Oct 2001, 5014 posts, RR: 44
Reply 6, posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 4169 times:

N79969,

As we are all well aware of your continuing delusion that Airbus made economic sense.

That's the best you can do? You must be running out of arguments to support you thought up 'air'.


User currently offlineSabenapilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2000, 2714 posts, RR: 47
Reply 7, posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4146 times:

N79969,
If a manufacturer that holds over 2/3rd of the world's backlog for civil aviation jets does not make economic sense, then I wonder why the others are still fooling around?





User currently offlineIslandHopper From United States of America, joined Feb 2003, 327 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4138 times:

>They had the resources to build narrowbody aircraft (1-11, Mercure,...) but not to build a widebody. (thus the consortium)

Thanks, Scorpio. This explanation makes the most sense so far.

C'mon guys, don't ruin my thread with another A vs. B war! Back to the subject at hand...


User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6385 posts, RR: 54
Reply 9, posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4100 times:

Don't forget that much of the same resources, which were combined into "Airbus", were in the 70'es tied to the Concorde program.

The original strategy, which dates back to the 60'es, was quite clear:

Long haul = supersonic = Concorde.

Thin short haul: Everybody could do that, Caravelle, Mercure, 1-11, Trident, VFW-614, Fokker F-28.

That left the heavy short haul sector undecided, and no single company was strong enough to lift that burdon - closest came maybe BAC with the 3-11 project. That's why forces were combined into Airbus to produce the A300.

Seen in the bright light of the back mirror everybody can see some flaws in that 40 years old strategy, but those flaws have all been corrected by Airbus over the years.



Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13165 posts, RR: 78
Reply 10, posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4045 times:

The 150 seat short haul market was the holy grail for many years, being such a big market from the 1980's onwards.
In the 1970's many projects, Anglo-French Jet 2, various planned tie-ups by Dassault/MDD, Fokker MDD, traditional-style national projects like BAC-1-11-800, Mercure 300, a HS Trident development with 2xJT10D engines, various German/Dutch/French projects.
But as Airbus grew in stature, the logic was to go with them, on an all new design.
Just making an aircraft with no radically new features seemed safer, but what would that offer that the newly announced B737-300 could not?
So Airbus took a risk with the FBW A320.
A risk which paid off


User currently offlineSccutler From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 5488 posts, RR: 28
Reply 11, posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4015 times:

There is little doubt that Airbus was created for reasons more political than purely financial. From where I sit, it looks like it was a pretty shrewd move.

I still prefer Boeing aircraft. And I wish MD were still out there. But their failure was *theirs*- not Airbus'.



...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
User currently offlineRayChuang From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 7987 posts, RR: 5
Reply 12, posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 3932 times:

If I remember correctly, the A320 Family started originally around 1977 as the Joint European Transport (JET) project to provide a true European alternative to the aging Caravelle and Trident designs. The project was only made possible with the availability of the CFM56 engine in the late 1970's.

By 1980, the project was being developed under the A200 moniker, and when the project was officially launched in 1983 it got the A320 name.


User currently offlineNorthStarDC4M From Canada, joined Apr 2000, 2990 posts, RR: 37
Reply 13, posted (10 years 12 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 3876 times:
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dont forget, you also had BAe and DASA/Fokker (both members of the Airbus Group) in the mix, looking after their own programs (146/ARJ/original aRJ-X, F70/100/130) who didnt want customers to look to Airbus instead. Thats partly why it took so long for the A319 to appear. the A320 was designed at 150 pax just to avoid competing with the 100/110 seaters from BAe and Fokker (or at least thats one version of the story...)


Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
User currently offlineIslandHopper From United States of America, joined Feb 2003, 327 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (10 years 12 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3710 times:

Ah, I didn't know Fokker was a member of the Airbus group. Are they still? I know Fokker still exists somewhat to provide spare parts, no?

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