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A380 Article - Airliner That Fell To Earth  
User currently offlineBCAInfoSys From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 6728 times:

OK guys.. I'm really surprised that no one has posted this yet. (Did a quick search and didn't find anything.. sorry if this is a double post.)

My father sent me this article from the Economist (UK) and it does a really good job of dissecting the current debacle at Airbus and the role meddling politicans have played in creating this fiasco. Just more proof to me that companies that follow sound capitalist business practices will ultimately triumph over those who have political and pride issues which interfere with common business sense.

Comments? (And while it's impossible to keep A vs B out of this, let's keep it within reason so this thread remains around to be debated, ok?)

**********************************************************************************************************
(-fair use excerpt-)

The Airliner That Fell to Earth
Will politicians shoot down the world's biggest passenger jet?

The Economist (UK) 10/05/2006
Copyright (C) 2006 The Economist; Source: World Reporter (TM) - FT McCarthy

PRIME MINISTERS and heads of state from France, Germany, Britain and Spain were all there to claim credit for a European triumph when the A380 passenger jet was unveiled in January 2005 in a grand ceremony in Toulouse, at the factory where the final assembly of pieces from all over Europe takes place. Barely six months later, while everyone was admiring the plane's first flight, Airbus slipped out news of a six-month delay in deliveries. Then last June it announced a further six-month delay and said it would deliver a mere nine planes in 2007, rather than 25. Heads rolled, both at Airbus and its parent company, EADS: two Frenchmen and the German boss of Airbus lost their jobs.

But new aircraft are often overdue. The first Boeing 747s were two years late in 1969. That delay nearly bankrupted Boeing, however. And this week EADS confirmed rumours that the delay to the A380 had increased to two years and spelled out the financial consequences. Only one aircraft will now be delivered next year. The delay will knock a further €4.8 billion ($6 billion) off profits and €6.3 billion off revenues at EADS between 2006 and 2010.

The bill could yet prove even higher. No one expects the big early customers such as Emirates or Singapore to cancel all their orders, but threatening noises this week from Emirates' boss Tim Clark about "considering all his options" suggest that large-scale compensation and even partial reductions in orders could be in the offing. These airlines and other early customers, such as Qantas, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic, have built their growth plans around having large numbers of extra seats available on an aircraft that promises cost-per-seat reductions of 15-20%. They will want Airbus to pay for the leasing of smaller Boeings or Airbuses to plug that gap. All this comes as orders for the new airliner have stuck at around 160: each delay pushes up the number needed for break-even from the original figure of 250.

Looming trouble
The immediate cause of the disaster was a breakdown in the snap-together final assembly process in Toulouse that has served the company well for over 30 years. Rear fuselages made in Hamburg were supposed to arrive in Toulouse with all their wiring ready to plug into the forward parts coming in from factories in north and west France. But the 500km of wiring in the two halves did not match up, causing huge problems. Failure to use the latest three-dimensional modelling software meant nobody anticipated the effect of using lightweight aluminium wiring rather than copper, which is to make bends in the wiring looms bulkier. Worse, the engineers scrambling to fix the problem did so in different ways. So the early aircraft all have their own one-of-a-kind wiring systems. It will take all of next year to introduce a proper standardised process.

None of this would have mattered so much if the airliner's fuselage had all been built in France. But Germany lobbied hard to land a big chunk of the A380, to add to the final assembly of some derivatives of the A320 family. Now the greater complexity of the super-jumbo has shown up the inherent weaknesses in Airbus's production system, just as it faces a revitalised Boeing and a weaker dollar. Most of Airbus's costs are in euros, but sales are in dollars. So Airbus's new boss, Christian Streiff, must slash costs.

...

That does not go far enough. As Mr Streiff pointed out this week, Airbus must also catch up with Boeing in product development, cutting its lead-time for new aircraft from seven to five years. Boeing is enjoying record sales of its 787 Dreamliner, but Airbus had to go back to the drawing board to redesign its riposte, the A350. EADS has not yet said how much the delayed development of the A350 will cost, but Sash Tusa, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, estimates that it could be more than €2 billion.

For a real solution to its problems, Airbus must take more drastic action, such as doing away with the politically motivated division of labour between German, French, Spanish and British production sites. Mr Tusa says that Airbus, with 16 sites, has seven too many. Two factories in France, four in Germany, and one in Spain could be sold or closed down. And it would make most sense to build all of the A380 in France and all of the A320 in Germany. But both countries want to keep production of the prestigious new jet.

...

To further complicate matters, the German government has not denied that it has plans to buy a stake in EADS when DaimlerChrysler reduces its stake from 22.5% to 15%, as the carmaker plans to do. Rather than engaging in such power struggles, however, the German government should be helping Mr Streiff with his restructuring. French politicians, in the run-up to the presidential election next year, are unlikely to have anything useful to contribute. The fate of Airbus now depends as much on political courage as on managerial expertise.

20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMham001 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 3389 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 6649 times:

Quoting BCAInfoSys (Thread starter):

But new aircraft are often overdue. The first Boeing 747s were two years late in 1969.

I hadn't heard that before.


User currently offlineLTU932 From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 13864 posts, RR: 50
Reply 2, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 6600 times:

Quoting BCAInfoSys (Thread starter):
But new aircraft are often overdue. The first Boeing 747s were two years late in 1969.

This is certainly news to me. I thought the delay was only of a couple of months duration and not even Boeing's fault because of problems with the Pratt & Whitney JT9D.


User currently offlineGlom From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2005, 2809 posts, RR: 10
Reply 3, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 6600 times:

I thought the 747 was two months, not two years late to EIS. And it was a bigger leap than the A380.

User currently offlineThebry From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 375 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 6454 times:
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Quoting Glom (Reply 3):
I thought the 747 was two months, not two years late to EIS. And it was a bigger leap than the A380.

It was. This is another example of the media not quite having their facts straight. And this from a reputable source (Economist). In the same vane, I don't think I'll believe all the strife they've reported (predicted) for Airbus. Overall, this is an opinion piece anyway.


User currently offlineDtwclipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 6442 times:

Quoting Glom (Reply 3):
I thought the 747 was two months,

This is correct:
A380 Delays - A Perspective (by DfwRevolution Oct 3 2006 in Civil Aviation)
"The A380 delays really shocked me today, and after doing some reading, I'd like to put the latest delay in perspective with other commercial programs:

1) Comparison to 747 delays

A380 roll-out: April 2005
Aircraft delivered 12/18/24/30 months later: 0/0/0/1-4 (?)

747-100 roll-out: September 1968
Aircraft delivered 12/18/24/30 months later: 0/20/73/115*
(* -200 variant introduced)

2) Comparison to 787 progress

Planned A380 delivery/EIS dates -
Singapore: Q3' 07
Qantas: Q1-Q2 '08 (?)
Emirates: Q3 '08
Air France: Q1-Q2 '09
Lufthansa: Q2-Q3 '09

Planned 787 delivery/EIS dates -
ANA/JAL: Q2 2008
Jetstar/LOT/Ethiopian: Q2-Q3 2008
Northwest: Q3 2008
Continental: Q1 '09
Korean Air/Vietnam: Q2 '09"

----------------


User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21415 posts, RR: 60
Reply 6, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 6018 times:

According to wiki entry, the 747 did have 1 year delay. While initial deliveries were only delayed a few months, the delays rippled through the schedule much like they are with the A380 and some deliveries were delayed nearly a year (but only some). It was due entirely to the engines, but it put Boeing into a dire position, worse than what Airbus is in now.


Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6639 posts, RR: 78
Reply 7, posted (7 years 6 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 5910 times:

Quoting Dtwclipper (Reply 5):
A380 roll-out: April 2005
Aircraft delivered 12/18/24/30 months later: 0/0/0/1-4 (?)

Roll-out took place in January 2005.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineBCAInfoSys From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 5459 times:

So aside from a few minor historical facts being inaccurate, what were your thoughts on the substance of the article? What points did you agree with? Disagree with?

User currently offlineBoeingfever777 From United States of America, joined Jul 2009, 409 posts, RR: 55
Reply 9, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 5160 times:

Quoting BCAInfoSys (Thread starter):
The first Boeing 747s were two years late in 1969.

2yrs? No... 2months.

Boeing had promised to deliver the 747 to Pan Am by 1970, meaning that it had less than four years to develop, build and test the aircraft. Work progressed at such a breakneck pace that all those who worked on the development of the 747 were given the nickname "The Incredibles".[6] The massive cost of developing the 747 and building the Everett factory meant that Boeing had to borrow, and gambled its very existence on the 747's success; had the project failed, it would have taken the company along with it. Initial problems with the JT9D's development forced Boeing to delay deliveries up to year, and as a result up to 30 planes at one time were left stranded at the Everett plant, with the company on the brink of bankruptcy.

On January 15, 1970, First Lady Pat Nixon officially christened a Pan Am Boeing 747 at Washington Dulles International Airport in the presence of Pan Am chairman Najeeb Halaby.

I could have swore it was only 2months delay.



Faire du ciel le plus bel endroit de la terre.
User currently offlineLapnorthgenboy From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 7 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4191 times:

The delay was no more than days on the 747 it was in service US-London Heathrow by Jan21 1970. The 747 did have a big weight problem though, it grossed over 700,000 lbs compared to the original objective of 600.000+lbs, it also had a unexpected thrust shortfall in the early JT-9D engines caused by the casings ovalizing in use. Lots of hard engineering work got the engines fixed in the early years of service, increased power variant engines and longer runways took care of the weight problem.You only had to watch a 747SP takeoff to see something closer to the original plans!!I'm a little puzzled that Boeing are choosing to spread major 787 component production around the world with 747LCF aerial delivery if distant production locations are reckoned to be the problem with Airbus
Sounds like Airbus need to hire a lot of electricians??


User currently offlineN174UA From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 994 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 3637 times:

I subscribe to the Economist through my Master's Degree program at Seattle U., so I read the article last night since the issue came in the mail.

The parapraph below is what REALLY sticks out in my mind as significant. It really highlights the politics over efficient production at Airbus. And not using design software? Boeing has been using it for what...at least 10 years now? Lastly, I wouldn't want to own the planes that have this "one of a kind" electrical system...talk about a nightmare for routine maintenance...once they are due for a check, they'd have to go back to the factory. Yikes.

Quoting BCAInfoSys (Thread starter):
The immediate cause of the disaster was a breakdown in the snap-together final assembly process in Toulouse that has served the company well for over 30 years. Rear fuselages made in Hamburg were supposed to arrive in Toulouse with all their wiring ready to plug into the forward parts coming in from factories in north and west France. But the 500km of wiring in the two halves did not match up, causing huge problems. failure to use the latest three-dimensional modelling software meant nobody anticipated the effect of using lightweight aluminium wiring rather than copper, which is to make bends in the wiring looms bulkier. Worse, the engineers scrambling to fix the problem did so in different ways. So the early aircraft all have their own one-of-a-kind wiring systems. It will take all of next year to introduce a proper standardised process.


User currently offlineB707Stu From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 918 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 3588 times:

My memory of the 747 delay was at JFK, the night PA2 was to be the first scheduled flight at 19h00. It left the gate and returned, I believe the total delay was somewhere between 4 and 5 hours!

User currently offlineBCAInfoSys From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 3236 times:

Quoting N174UA (Reply 11):
And not using design software? Boeing has been using it for what...at least 10 years now? Lastly, I wouldn't want to own the planes that have this "one of a kind" electrical system...talk about a nightmare for routine maintenance...once they are due for a check, they'd have to go back to the factory. Yikes.

I think that the issue was not they failed to USE design software, it's that they were using different VERSIONS. Essentially different versions of CATIA being used in different production facilities is the cause of said problems. (If I'm wrong, please correct me.  Smile )


User currently offlineLeelaw From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 3219 times:

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 6):
According to wiki entry, the 747 did have 1 year delay. While initial deliveries were only delayed a few months, the delays rippled through the schedule much like they are with the A380 and some deliveries were delayed nearly a year (but only some). It was due entirely to the engines, but it put Boeing into a dire position, worse than what Airbus is in now.

That's an interesting version of what happened.

Nevertheless, Boeing had delivered 96 741s to 17 customers/operators by December 31, 1970, which was 1-year and 1-day after the 741 achieved certification on December 30, 1969. Additionally, Boeing had delivered a cumulative total of 165 741s & 742s by December 31 1971, which was more than order than the total order backlog for the 747 program of 158 units at the time of the 747s (RA001) maiden flight in February 1969. It would be interesting to know which deliveries in the queue were delayed for up to one-year?

Furthermore, the severe business set-back/contraction Boeing Commercial Aircraft suffered in the early-seventies was mostly attributable to the cancellation of the American SST program, and a deep economic recession in the North American economy which hit the airline industry particularly hard, leading to a severe decline in orders, as well as order cancellations, across all product lines. Not the ramp-up of 747 production. In fact, so many people left the Puget Sound region to look for work elsewhere because of job cuts at Boeing, that two local real estate agents put up a billboard reading "Will the last person leaving Seattle — Turn out the lights."



IMO, if anything, Boeing's (Joe Sutter and the "Incredibles") ability to deliver 165 747s between December 1969 and December 1971, despite severe problems with the JT9D engine, most likely contributed to the company's ultimate recovery.

[Edited 2006-10-08 00:58:08]

User currently offlineGeorgiaAME From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 926 posts, RR: 6
Reply 15, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 2945 times:

I remember sitting in bed, reading the NYTimes in 1966 when the 747 project was announced. The first passengers flew to London in January 1970. It really doesn't matter if the plane was delayed 2 years or 2 months. 4 years from announcement to generating revenue is not bad! When was the 3XX project first announced?

Those bozos that pass for managers should be holding their heads in shame! Much as I would love to blame the French or German governments for socialist meddling, this glitch falls squarely at the feet of incompetent management. If this really is a matter of Part A not inserting properly into Part B, you have to wonder what else isn't going to fit properly. And if it is A into B, how did the first aircraft make it into the air in the first place? Something is missing in this story!

This machine may be a dream to fly one day, but the more I read, the scarier it gets; almost reminiscent of the square shaped windows on the Comet. A great idea in the early 50's, but it had just a few technical problems...

As for bashing Airbus, I still go out of my way to fly the A340. And I just wish I could snag a 330 across the Atlantic.



"Trust, but verify!" An old Russian proverb, quoted often by a modern American hero
User currently offlineSFOMEX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 2153 times:

Quoting BCAInfoSys (Thread starter):
Failure to use the latest three-dimensional modelling software meant nobody anticipated the effect of using lightweight aluminium wiring rather than copper, which is to make bends in the wiring looms bulkier. Worse, the engineers scrambling to fix the problem did so in different ways. So the early aircraft all have their own one-of-a-kind wiring systems. It will take all of next year to introduce a proper standardised process.

It might look like a silly question for some experts here, but I'll ask it nonetheless: having all this one-of-a-kind wiring system in the A380 in mind, should the future passengers of the 380 be worried about their safety?


User currently offlineAirFrnt From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2822 posts, RR: 42
Reply 17, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2099 times:

Quoting SFOMEX (Reply 16):
It might look like a silly question for some experts here, but I'll ask it nonetheless: having all this one-of-a-kind wiring system in the A380 in mind, should the future passengers of the 380 be worried about their safety?

It would be if it actually were delivered that way. However, the entire point of FAA certification is that every plane must be built identically for the certification to be valid. Hence Airbus has to rip it out and do it right.


User currently offlineCadet57 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 9085 posts, RR: 31
Reply 18, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2083 times:

Oh boy, Look.... another whalejet thread....


Doors open, right hand side, next stop is Springfield.
User currently offlineCricket From India, joined Aug 2005, 2964 posts, RR: 7
Reply 19, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 1992 times:

Quoting Cadet57 (Reply 18):
Oh boy, Look.... another whalejet thread....

Hahahaha  Smile
Its getting as bad as the Northwest DC-9 stuff that happened between 2002-03-04-05. I think Whalejet threads to carry on until 2008, when the 787 threads will start!



A300B2/B4/6R, A313, A319/320/321, A333, A343, A388, 737-2/3/4/7/8/9, 747-3/4, 772/2E/2L/3, E170/190, F70, CR2/7, 146-3,
User currently offlineKlkla From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 904 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 1959 times:

Quoting Cricket (Reply 19):
Its getting as bad as the Northwest DC-9 stuff that happened between 2002-03-04-05. I think Whalejet threads to carry on until 2008, when the 787 threads will start!

Wishful thinking? UNTIL there is evidence that the 787 program is experiencing major problems that statement is just a stab in the dark. The fact is the A380 program is a major fiasco the likes of which have never been seen before in modern comerical aviation. While there is still a chance this MIGHT happen with the 787 there is no credible evidence yet to suggest that this is the situation.


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