Airbus CEO Talks About Highs And Lows Of Market

By Jens Flottau
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

Following first flight, you need to get the A350 through certification and ramp up production. How well prepared are you?

Our engineers will tell you that the maturity is much higher than on the A380, thanks to the changes made. The technologies are probably even more challenging on a full-composite aircraft than on the A380. Is it all enough? Never. That's why we bring additional support to some risk-sharing partners who are still struggling. We've also launched longer-term actions to manage the ramp-up.

Have you struck a good balance between outsourcing and doing things yourself?

Yes. But getting the balance right doesn't cure everything. Internally, we also have challenges. With some risk-sharing partners it can take a little longer to fix issues. You must trust that partners will ask you for support if needed. We still have three composite plants internally and do control what we do.

Are you still looking into buying Spirit's Saint Nazaire plant, which has had trouble delivering A350 components on time?

No. We have launched a joint action plan with Spirit. We sent a number of Airbus people in support and we see improvement. Buying back sites is not our main objective.

In a way, you are still building the A350 like a metal aircraft. You selected fuselage panels and did not go for the full barrels like Boeing's on the 787. Any regrets?

We are very happy with the panels. The process of building them is probably the simplest in manufacturing this aircraft. I don't see the benefit in going for the full barrel.

There has been a lot of talk about whether or not you are going to build the A350-800. Will you?

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