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Airbus: English As A Second Language?  
User currently offlineSkepticAll From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 7762 times:

Fresh from the pages of Bloomberg. Possibly will help explain some of the delays encountered with the A380:

Airbus Vows Computers Will Speak Same Language After A380 Delay

By Andrea Rothman

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Airbus SAS employees have a common language at work: English. The planemaker's computers, spread across Europe, don't.

Software used to manage the design and manufacture of the 555-seat A380 at Airbus's Hamburg engineering center isn't fully compatible with that used at company headquarters in Toulouse, France, say current and former Airbus executives, including Charles Champion, who headed the A380 program until September.

That's why hundreds of small changes to electrical wiring in the A380 snowballed into at least a year's delay in delivering the world's biggest passenger aircraft and $2.5 billion in lost profit. Airbus Chief Executive Officer Christian Streiff may announce additional costs or longer delays for the A380 in coming days. The board of Airbus parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. meets today in Amsterdam.

Read whole article here:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...601087&sid=aSGkIYVa9IZk&refer=home

[Edited 2006-09-29 16:58:32]

21 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineBoomBoom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 7336 times:

Ahem....back on topic. This is actually a very informative article, everyone should read it entirely.

Quote:
``Attempts to have common tools failed for various reasons,'' Champion says. ``It's all about legacy: When you start to use a tool, changing tools is an enormous investment. The question is always, what is the business case to change tools?''


The decision would have been easier if any of the software was obsolete, but each partner considered its piece of the puzzle to be working well, Champion says.

Forgeard, 59, who led Airbus from 1998 until 2005, never really followed through, says Yan Derocles, an analyst at Oddo Securities in Paris who rates EADS stock ``add.''

``The integration was never fully achieved,'' Derocles says. ``When they merged the separate companies, they should have merged all their processes, but they didn't.''

EADS's board in December 2000 gave the green light to proceed with production, with the goal of getting the first A380 to customers in 2006.

On such a tight schedule, there was little time to overhaul design tools and methods...

http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aSGkIYVa9IZk


User currently offlineLeskova From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 6075 posts, RR: 70
Reply 2, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 7300 times:

Quoting BoomBoom (Reply 9):
Ahem....back on topic. This is actually a very informative article, everyone should read it entirely.

Absolutely!

I find it almost horrifying, how a company like Airbus can fall into a trap like this - I mean, seriously, working on different, and non-compatible, versions of software is not exactly professional! I seriously doubt that Airbus lacked the funds to also upgrade the offices in Spain and Germany - so the question remains, what reasoning was behind this step... was there something in the newer version that France and the UK needed and something that kept Spain and Germany from being able to use it? Or did they simply forget?

I'm aware that harmonizing software accross different offices can, at times, be a pain - I'm currently trying to harmonize one piece of software in three of our offices, but with each office using the software a bit differently, it's far easier said than done...



Smile - it confuses people!
User currently offlineN328KF From United States of America, joined May 2004, 6485 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 7269 times:

Quoting Leskova (Reply 10):
I'm aware that harmonizing software accross different offices can, at times, be a pain - I'm currently trying to harmonize one piece of software in three of our offices, but with each office using the software a bit differently, it's far easier said than done...

Probably turf war. Each division had its own disparate IT staff...nobody was put in charge of IT for all of EADS, or at least all of Airbus. Each national center wanted to "own" its own IT group.



When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' T.Roosevelt
User currently offlineNewark777 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 9348 posts, RR: 29
Reply 4, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 7269 times:

Reminds me of the Mars rover that crashed due to the wrong units being used. Hopefully this won't end up the same way.

Harry



Why grab a Heine when you can grab a Busch?
User currently offlineLeskova From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 6075 posts, RR: 70
Reply 5, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 7234 times:

Quoting N328KF (Reply 11):
Probably turf war. Each division had its own disparate IT staff...nobody was put in charge of IT for all of EADS, or at least all of Airbus. Each national center wanted to "own" its own IT group.

I fear that it might just be that... either that, or internal communications at a... let's say... sub-par level for a corporation that size.

Not sure which would be better...  Wink

Well... thank goodness that that's a problem I don't have to deal with... as of 1 October, I'm the only person calling the shots regarding that specific piece of software that I'm dealing with within the three countries where we're using it... Big grin ... sorry for the self-glossing there...  Wink

Quoting Newark777 (Reply 12):
Reminds me of the Mars rover that crashed due to the wrong units being used. Hopefully this won't end up the same way.

Ugh... that's what came to my mind at first as well... and I wouldn't be surprised at all if some of the IT-pros that caused this problem at Airbus probably laughed their heads off at NASA's dilemma back then...



Smile - it confuses people!
User currently offlinePygmalion From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 966 posts, RR: 37
Reply 6, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 7127 times:

Not a turf war, as I understand it. CATIA V4 and V5 are not compatible. But all the older models are designed in V4... So to continue building the A320, A330, A340 etc etc, introducing new customers etc. requires that they keep V4 in use. V5 is better, you will save money using it on any new design. SO how do you draw the line and change over. Some of the same engineering staff at Hamburg support the A320 and the A380... do you give them 2 computers and train them on both??? ouch. Airbus decided to do Hamburg designs in V4 and Toulouse in V5... This is actually doable. You just need to integrate the designs. Its a challenge but not impossible. Airbus was creating a software package called ACE to do just that... but it wasn't ready in time. You can do it manually, it takes diligence, perseverance etc. Airbus management let it get out of sync. That was the real failure.

FYI. Boeing uses Dassault CATIA V4 and V5... somehow they figured it out.


User currently offlineScorpio From Belgium, joined Oct 2001, 5032 posts, RR: 43
Reply 7, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 7067 times:

It's pretty bad when different design and engineering centers of the same company work with different software that isn't compatible. It goes a long way to explaining the f*ck-ups on the A380 rewiring...

[Edited 2006-09-29 20:24:47]

User currently offlineBoomBoom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 7042 times:

So the question becomes, how long will it take to get everybody up to speed on the new software, and how long will this delay the A350X?

User currently offlineEatmybologna From France, joined Apr 2005, 412 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 7016 times:

Quoting Leskova (Reply 10):
so the question remains, what reasoning was behind this step... was there something in the newer version that France and the UK needed and something that kept Spain and Germany from being able to use it?

From reading the article, it appears the Spaniards & Germans were comfortable with a two dimensional and earlier version of Catia (CAD) that works well in the electrical engineering industry. The French, on the other hand, upgraded their engineering departments with Catia version 5 in order to take advantage of the 3 dimensional solid modeling, quite logical considering the enormous assembly requirements at hand.

The problem is that it takes much effort, training, and time in order to become at ease and proficient with designing when converting from 2-D to 3-D solid modeling CAD. I believe that the Spaniards & Germans have always had the ambition and aptitude, but because of the time constraint pressures to get the A380 delivered by 2006, they chose to continue with the legacy design software not foreseeing problematical adaptability requirements and related hic-ups and along the way.

It looks as though the original management team failed to align the design processes between the divisions. Streiff is biting the bullet and getting all teams on the same page. With the Catia 5 upgrade across the board, design work and engineering tasks will become much more streamlined and improved.  crossfingers 

E-M-B



Isn't knowledge more than just the acquisition of information? Shouldn't the acquired information be correct?
User currently offlinePygmalion From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 966 posts, RR: 37
Reply 10, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 6981 times:

CATIA V4 is 3D volume based. You build a volume from a wireframe in 3D in V4. V5 is also volume based but is built from a parametric volume. Easier to update or revise. Both are 3D. Boeing used V4, I believe on the 777, 737NG and still is on derivatives (-3ER, 37-900ER etc). Boeing is using V5 on new designs if I am not mistaken. You can merge the two. It just takes additional work, software. The models made from V4, V5 are not directly compatible but can be combined for integration work with the right software. Airbus just didn't get 'er done.

User currently offlineEatmybologna From France, joined Apr 2005, 412 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 6910 times:

Quoting Pygmalion (Reply 10):
CATIA V4 is 3D volume based.

But perhaps the version the Germans & Spaniards were using was Catia 3, a 2-d platform?

"That meant the German teams couldn't add their design changes for the electrical wiring back into the common three- dimensional digital mockup being produced in Toulouse, Champion says."



Isn't knowledge more than just the acquisition of information? Shouldn't the acquired information be correct?
User currently offlineTom12 From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2005, 1078 posts, RR: 13
Reply 12, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 4671 times:

Wow, thats a pretty silly mistake for a company like Airbus to make. You would think that they would just stick to English?

Tom



"Per noctem volamus" - Royal Air Force Bomber Squadron IX
User currently offlineMika From Sweden, joined Jul 2000, 2881 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 4655 times:

That seems downright stupid to me. How can a company seemingly full of intelligent and educated people not just use english as a common language in all their business making and production? Seems very odd to me.

User currently offlineLeskova From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 6075 posts, RR: 70
Reply 14, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3525 times:

Quoting Mika (Reply 14):
How can a company seemingly full of intelligent and educated people not just use english as a common language in all their business making and production?

Ok... once again... please read the article before commenting...

Quoting SkepticAll (Thread starter):
Airbus SAS employees have a common language at work: English.

This is not about the language that's spoken at work - it's about a software incompatibility between the CAD software used in Germany/Spain and that used in the UK and France.

Then again... the title of this thread is rather misleading in that regard...



Smile - it confuses people!
User currently onlineRevelation From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 12562 posts, RR: 25
Reply 15, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 3274 times:

Quoting Newark777 (Reply 4):
Reminds me of the Mars rover that crashed due to the wrong units being used. Hopefully this won't end up the same way.

If the problem were only that simple. The Airbus situation is not as dramatic (no crashes into another planet) but much more pervasive and difficult to solve.

Quoting Pygmalion (Reply 6):
Not a turf war, as I understand it. CATIA V4 and V5 are not compatible. But all the older models are designed in V4... So to continue building the A320, A330, A340 etc etc, introducing new customers etc. requires that they keep V4 in use. V5 is better, you will save money using it on any new design. SO how do you draw the line and change over. Some of the same engineering staff at Hamburg support the A320 and the A380... do you give them 2 computers and train them on both??? ouch. Airbus decided to do Hamburg designs in V4 and Toulouse in V5... This is actually doable. You just need to integrate the designs. Its a challenge but not impossible. Airbus was creating a software package called ACE to do just that... but it wasn't ready in time. You can do it manually, it takes diligence, perseverance etc. Airbus management let it get out of sync. That was the real failure.

FYI. Boeing uses Dassault CATIA V4 and V5... somehow they figured it out.

Thank you for your knowledgable post. I've learned something new today!

I know it's a matter of diligence etc to do things manually, but one has to wonder how verifyable the manual effort is. It's 20/20 hindsight, but computers not only remove the manual effort but provide great ability to later verify their work. It's a sad, sad situation. JAA/FAA are sticklers about verification. They aren't going to be happy with the varying degrees of manual integration done as the new systems are phased in, and I don't think the airlines will be either.

Quoting Eatmybologna (Reply 9):
The problem is that it takes much effort, training, and time in order to become at ease and proficient with designing when converting from 2-D to 3-D solid modeling CAD. I believe that the Spaniards & Germans have always had the ambition and aptitude, but because of the time constraint pressures to get the A380 delivered by 2006, they chose to continue with the legacy design software not foreseeing problematical adaptability requirements and related hic-ups and along the way.

I wonder if it also has something to do with the cost of the systems and software too.

Quoting Pygmalion (Reply 10):
CATIA V4 is 3D volume based. You build a volume from a wireframe in 3D in V4. V5 is also volume based but is built from a parametric volume. Easier to update or revise. Both are 3D. Boeing used V4, I believe on the 777, 737NG and still is on derivatives (-3ER, 37-900ER etc). Boeing is using V5 on new designs if I am not mistaken. You can merge the two. It just takes additional work, software. The models made from V4, V5 are not directly compatible but can be combined for integration work with the right software. Airbus just didn't get 'er done.

Thanks again for the education!



Inspiration, move me brightly!
User currently offlineN328KF From United States of America, joined May 2004, 6485 posts, RR: 3
Reply 16, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 3248 times:

Quoting Newark777 (Reply 4):
Reminds me of the Mars rover that crashed due to the wrong units being used. Hopefully this won't end up the same way.

To be fair, the unit in question (Mars Polar Lander), was not a rover.



When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' T.Roosevelt
User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31003 posts, RR: 86
Reply 17, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 3155 times:
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Quoting Pygmalion (Reply 6):
Some of the same engineering staff at Hamburg support the A320 and the A380... do you give them 2 computers and train them on both??? ouch.

It happens. At Boeing Military, we had "black" computers for classified work and "white" computers for non-classified work. Many offices had one of each for projects like the F/A-22 and YF-32 projects. Was a pain for IT support because you had to maintain two seperate help desks and support staff - one for each system.

Quoting Eatmybologna (Reply 11):
But perhaps the version the Germans & Spaniards were using was Catia 3, a 2-d platform?

The article states they are on V4, plus using a 2D platform would only have been good to create blue-prints which would then need to be turned into 3D physical models like they did in "the before time".  Smile


User currently offlineMika From Sweden, joined Jul 2000, 2881 posts, RR: 3
Reply 18, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3089 times:

Quoting Leskova (Reply 14):
Ok... once again... please read the article before commenting...

Having read the article or not; incompability problems whether being a language barrier or issues with software is still not something i would have expected from a company like Airbus.


Take note that i am not trying to take any cheap shots at Airbus here, i'm just spontaneously expressing my mind.


User currently offlineOsiris30 From Barbados, joined Sep 2006, 3192 posts, RR: 25
Reply 19, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3082 times:

Quoting Stitch (Reply 17):
"the before time".

Southpark flashback LOL

Quoting Stitch (Reply 17):
At Boeing Military, we had "black" computers for classified work and "white" computers for non-classified work. Many offices had one of each for projects like the F/A-22 and YF-32 projects. Was a pain for IT support because you had to maintain two seperate help desks and support staff - one for each system.

Glad I didn't have to support it, but I always thought that was cool. However, trying to sell to Boeing or Lockhead on the military side was such a PITA.. just the security measures taken to get into some of the facilities.. ouch..

Quoting Stitch (Reply 17):
The article states they are on V4,

 checkmark 



I don't care what you think of my opinion. It's my opinion, so have a nice day :)
User currently offlineStirling From Italy, joined Jun 2004, 3943 posts, RR: 21
Reply 20, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 2815 times:

Quoting Tom12 (Reply 12):
Wow, thats a pretty silly mistake for a company like Airbus to make. You would think that they would just stick to English?



Quoting Mika (Reply 13):
That seems downright stupid to me. How can a company seemingly full of intelligent and educated people not just use english as a common language in all their business making and production?

Your comments make me think back to comment made last night on the Simpsons. Marge says about the new playzone in town, "Don't worry about safety, it's owned by a big corporation"....or something to that effect.

Truthfully, with so many people, working across so many languages and nations, hiccups are guaranteed to happen, just because they are an enormous company, doesn't mean they are made out of Teflon. To be honest, I see alot of this attitude lately and it disturbs me, whether it be about big corporations or governments, people blindly follow and assume they either know what they are doing, or have the public's best interest at heart. I am not trying to beat up on you guys who are in awe of this mistake by Airbus, just don't give up any of your intellect. Question everything. Big does not translate to right in any language.

As for Airbus, Going from nothing, to the number 1 or 2 aircraft maker in the world is not a walk in the park....they had some good times, but when it came to innovation, defining their own culture, and not just reverse engineering the achievements of Boeing, McD, Fokker, Lockheed, Dassault, BAe, etc, they still had something to learn.
It is not the end of the world, but still a royal pain in the arse, they'll live, and deliver, just not on the old schedule. They'll figure this out and everything will be hunky-dory again; hopefully they will have learned their lesson(s).



Delete this User
User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6451 posts, RR: 54
Reply 21, posted (7 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 2269 times:

Quoting Pygmalion (Reply 10):
CATIA V4 is 3D volume based. You build a volume from a wireframe in 3D in V4. V5 is also volume based but is built from a parametric volume. Easier to update or revise. Both are 3D. Boeing used V4, I believe on the 777, 737NG and still is on derivatives (-3ER, 37-900ER etc). Boeing is using V5 on new designs if I am not mistaken. You can merge the two. It just takes additional work, software. The models made from V4, V5 are not directly compatible but can be combined for integration work with the right software. Airbus just didn't get 'er done.

Dear Pygmalion, I think that you are right, that Airbus overplays the software incombatibility issue. A company like Airbus simply cannot fall so deep into such an obvious trap. The V.4 vs V.5 compatibility problem must have been known and manageable, even if it was a disadvantage.

I have an own observation which may add some details. Summer 2004 I met a French friends at a sports flying event. We talked together over various issues, also about how we earned our living. My friend told me that he worked for Airbus on electrical design.

I suggested that then he was busy working on the A380.

He told me that he had worked for a few years on the A380, but now they had moved on to the A400M. As I would know the A380 prototypes were now being built, so the electric design had been ended quite a while ago. And he continued: "After all the A380 was just another airliner, even if it is BIG, but the A400M - a military plane - is a very interesting and challenging plane since it involves very different, combat oriented levels of redundancies plus some very interesting passive and active defence systems".

It makes me wonder if Airbus dissolved the electrical design teams way too early, simply because they had "finished their job".

Then when changes had to be done, new people had to be found to make the changes, or old people had to be pulled away from the middle of a demanding job after having not seen the A380 for a few years.

In all such large design jobs at least the core of all design teams must be kept intact until the final product is finished, has proven itself and has entered mass production.

I'm afraid that failure to maintain the electrical people current on the project is as much the reason for the problems as the software compatibility issue. Given the fact that the A400M is in electric design terms a very demanding plane, and a very different plane - not "just another airliner". And that general shortage of electrical designers with the A400M program running at full speed thinned out the A380 design teams way too fast already some three years ago.

In any case the current A380 design problems can only be traced down to one huge management failure to assign the correct resources for electric design. Whether those resources were human resources or software resources, we will probably never know.

I think that it is a combination. But exactly today is not the right day to put the blame on the electric design team managers. And then the only option left is to overplay the software incombatibility issue.



Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
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