30 September 2013

Starting with A350 XWB program, “we broke with previous decades’ practice of work-share being assigned according to an artificial kind of national split” T.Enders EADS CEO.

Airbus said it won’t return to a previous practice of apportioning work on new programs by national ownership structure, adding to signs that the European manufacturer is emancipating itself from political meddling.

Airbus first dropped the practice on its A350 wide-body jet, where the fact that France got more work so riled the German government that it continues to withhold some financial aid. Even so, the Toulouse, France-based company will continue in its new vein, said Tom Enders, the CEO of Airbus parent EADS.

“We broke with previous decades’ practice of work-share being assigned according to an artificial kind of national split,” Enders told journalists in Paris. “It was the first program where we looked at what is the best, most competitive supplier, and that’s certainly something we’ll insist on going forward.”

The comment highlights a liberation from government ties that Enders, a German and vocal critic of political involvement in his company has sought to push through. Airbus contributes 80 percent of revenue to the parent company, and Enders sought to balance out civil and defense sales last year with a merger with BAE Systems, which failed because of opposition from Germany´s government.

Germany has complained that Airbus’s factories there were given less work than those in France on the A350 XWB jet.

Germany has pledged 1.1 billion euros ($1.56 billion) toward the A350, or 1/3 of the contribution made together with France and the U.K. The A350’s development costs amount to about 11 billion euros.

EADS, also based in Toulouse, has overhauled its shareholder structure since the collapse of the BAE discussions late last year. Germany, which previously held no direct stake in the company, gained a 12 percent to match France’s reduced holding.

At the same time, governments no longer have the special veto rights that they possessed under the old structure.

Based on the article “Airbus Throws Out Workshare Rule as Government Involvement Wanes” published in Bloomberg

29 September 2013

Nose landing gear doors for the A350 XWB are made in Corsica; French Minister for Foreign Trade visits CCA in Ajaccio.

Last week, the French Minister for Foreign Trade Nicole Bricq visited Corse Composites Aeronautique (CCA).

CCA is a company with 250 employees whose turnover is around EUR 40 million. It is located in the industrial area of the Vazzio in Ajaccio. The 4 shareholders of the company are Airbus with 25.6% and Dassault, Safran and Latecoere with 24.8% each.

CCA is focuses on 3 main product families: nose landing gear doors, karmans and barrels for engine nacelles.

It was founded in 1983 as a manufacturer, in 1993 was a build to print company and 10 years later in 2003 a risk sharing partner, increasing responsibilities on the work packages and programs involved.

Based on the article “Nicole Bricq visite l'entreprise Corse Composites Aéronautiques” published in Corse Net Infos

28 September 2013

Transfer of technology and know-how to China? “Chinese” A350 big work-packages are currently manufactured and assembled in Spain.

The outsourcing of composite manufacturing outside Europe is a significant step by Airbus and could be risky because the Chinese partner (Harbin Aviation) is a subsidiary of AVIC, a shareholder in COMAC, which is busy developing the C919, its own A320-sized regional aircraft.

When asked whether he was concerned over the risk of Airbus technology being reused in Chinese-made aircraft, Rafael Gonzalez-Ripoll (Airbis China COO) was optimistically upbeat. “You cannot hide forever what you have delivered,” he said. “Technology transfer is the model for innovation. The technology we have moved to China is mature, not leading-edge. Airbus has since developed carbon fibre technology not used in Harbin.”

Airbus China COO is Spanish, as the A350 work packages that will be manufactured and assembled (partially and some totally) in Harbin; the Elevators, Rudders, Section 19 maintenance doors and belly fairing parts. Elevators and Rudders are currently being industrialized by Aernnova and the belly fairing by Alestis.

The concern voiced by some Spanish representatives was whether Airbus’ workshare in Spain is being weakened by moving its industrial packages to China. Once again Gonzalez-Ripoll was quick to reassure that there was plenty of work still for Spanish industry. “Moving work to China is more than compensated by the increase in work for the Airbus group as a whole,” he said. “The cake is getting bigger. The percentage of the ‘slice’ for each country may have changed but the size of the piece is still larger.”

HMC build state-of-the-art new facilities in 2009 which were inaugurated in early 2011.


The Harbin factory is ‘state-of-the-art’ with all the equipment needed to produce finished composite parts, including core and laminate cutters, laser projectors, automatic tape layer, hot forming, autoclaves, trimming, radioscopy, NDT C-scan and painting booths. Harbin will deliver the Chinese-made elevators to Aernnova where they will be incorporated into the A350’s horizontal tailplane.

Based on the press release “Harbin Composite Manufacturing Centre delivers 1st major A350 part.

27 September 2013

A350 second flight test prototype MSN3, painted between an A330 & A340. F-WZGG Registration

In this picture taken in Toulouse airport last Monday 23/January –and received by email- we can see the second flight prototype MSN3 of the A350 XWB, painted and parked outside.

F-WZGG registration for the MSN3

The picture was taken while the MSN3 was located at the end of the flight test line, next to the A340-600 and the A330, both aircraft that will be replaced in the future by the A350 XWB.

The MSN3 will be flying shortly, probably next week, joining the MSN1 into the certification program.

The MSN1 has logged more than 250 flight hours in almost 60 flights, about 10% of certification program. It has already met its performance specification in flight tests so far, as Mr. Leahy said, so a new phase of the certification test plan will start in comming days.

Based on the article “Airbus Says A330 to Survive a Decade on Long-Haul Discount Sales” published in Bloomberg.

26 September 2013

“Spirit has come a long way over the past 2 years and we have gotten rid of most of our headaches, but we still have to keep an eye on them”, Didier Evrard HO Program A350 XWB.

For program manager Didier Evrard, the start of flight testing only increases pressure to ensure that Airbus and its suppliers are gearing up production smoothly.

Manufacturing missteps have recently tripped up Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing developing and assembling the Airbus A380 superjumbo and Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

The A350 XWB, a two-engine intercontinental model designed to compete with Boeing's 787 and larger 777 models, is already more than one year late. Airbus has swallowed tens of millions of dollars in extra costs, in part due to troubles at its suppliers.

After problems with the superjumbo and Dreamliner, Mr. Evrard has made extra efforts to help Airbus suppliers, but concedes the process carries unknowns. "Taking on a supply partner is a bit like a marriage," Mr. Evrard said. "It's difficult to imagine how it's going to turn out on the first day.”

Roughly half of the A350's structure is made from carbon fiber-reinforced polymer composites that are tricky to manufacture. Airbus and its suppliers have struggled to accelerate production of the precision parts.

One of the biggest headaches Mr. Evrard said he has faced is with Spirit AeroSystems Inc.

The Wichita, Kansas based company has been building airplane parts for decades, but only for Boeing, from which it was spun off in 2005.

At one point last year, Airbus had more than 140 engineers and technicians working with Spirit to iron out problems.
"It took some time to realize the extent of the challenge, as [Spirit] had overestimated their capability," Mr. Evrard said at an Airbus technology presentation.

Spirit says the problems stemmed from the A350's novelty. "We believe that the issues we have been experiencing are normal at this stage of a program for bringing a brand-new airplane to market," said Spirit spokesman Ken Evans.

Issues at Spirit came as a surprise to Airbus, which selected the U.S. supplier largely because of its experience with Boeing. Mr. Evrard said Spirit hadn't fully adapted to independence and was accustomed to Boeing monitoring its suppliers.
To address this, Airbus commissioned an external audit of Spirit's internal processes. This allowed engineers and managers from Airbus to help Spirit improve its supply-chain management, Mr. Evrard said.

Spirit has "come a long way over the past 2 years and we have gotten rid of most of our headaches," Mr. Evrard said. "But we still have to keep an eye on them”.

Airbus is ramping up A350 production as a boom in demand for smaller passenger jets is stretching aviation suppliers' capacity to meet increasing demands from Airbus and Boeing.

"Suppliers are dealing with a double squeeze from the ramp-up in production at Airbus and Boeing as well as the need to gear up for their new programs," said Christophe Menard, an aviation-sector analyst at Paris brokerage house Kepler Cheuvreux.

Supply-chain disruptions are "a real risk" for Airbus on the A350, Mr. Menard said

Based on the article “Airbus Aiming for A350 Maiden Flight Within Days” published in Dow Jones Business News

25 September 2013

Airbus COO Customers Leahy pushes hard internally to raise production rates for the A350-1000.

Airbus will decide whether to raise production rates for the A350-1000 later this year, according to Chief Operating Officer Customers John Leahy. “I would like to see more -1000s built,” Leahy said on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting in Cape Town.

Leahy pointed out that he has seen a strong rise in demand for the largest member of the A350 family recently and that he is pushing hard internally for Airbus to increase production rates.

At the same time, Leahy insisted that Airbus will build the smaller -800, for which demand has been very low. “There will always be an -800”, but his priority has clearly shifted to the -1000 as airlines are now tending to buy bigger aircraft.

Leahy discarded the possibility of Airbus eventually offering an even larger version of the A350 because a double stretch of the -900 would risk losing a lot of its capabilities. He pointed out the failure of the Boeing 767-400 as one example where a double stretch has not worked.

Based on the article “Airbus Looks At Higher A350-1000 Output” published in Aviation Week.

24 September 2013

Airbus allocates 5% of the A350 airframe to be manufactured in China.

According to an agreement signed in 2007 between Airbus and the Chinese government, Airbus agreed to allocate 5% of the A350 XWB airframe to be manufactured in China. The work packages to be carried out by HMC are a significant part of the five per cent.

The Harbin Hafei Manufacturing Centre, set up in 2009, is already producing work packages related to the Airbus Single Aisle programme (elevators, rudders and HTP spars) and started in September to deliver the first major part to the A350 XWB program.

In addition to helping Airbus compete better in Chinese markets, another reason for outsourcing to China is one of cost as there is, at present, a considerable cost difference between labour in China and in Europe. “Depending on what they do, the cost per hour of Chinese workers on the aeronautical side is between 2 to 3 times cheaper,” explains Airbus China COO Gonzalez-Ripoll.

“This is not just a factor of wages but from the fact that Chinese workers work longer hours. Currently, we have yet to realize all these cost advantages at Harbin, as the facility is still ramping up. However, once the process is mature, then it will be more efficient.”

However, he also issued a word of caution that this cost advantage may not remain in place forever. “While salary increases in Europe currently average around 1-3%, those in China are increasing around 10% per year – which will begin to erode this differential.”

Other factors may change too – not least the development of a new indigenous Chinese airliner. “Today we compete only with one major manufacturer,” says Gonzalez-Ripoll. “In the future we may be one of several manufacturers in the market. But what matters is that we can compete.”

HMC inagurated in 2011 state-of-the-art new facilities.

The Chinese edition of America´s Fortune Magazine has ranked Airbus twice as the most valuable brand in China and the Chinese Central Television has awarded Airbus as the international company better known in China.

Airbus appears confident that the move into China is a ‘win-win’ situation for both itself and for China. “Airbus is in China to stay,” states Rafael Gonzalez-Ripoll, who previously worked for Airbus in Spain and was appointed COO of Airbus China in January 2013. “When Airbus first moved into China in 1985, our market share was 6%,compared to 71% from Boeing and 23% from other manufacturers. By 2013, Airbus’ share has risen to 49%.”


Based on the press release “Harbin Composite Manufacturing Centre delivers 1st major A350 part.”

23 September 2013

Perfect moment to purchase a A350 XWB. Boeing increases the prices of the 787 and Airbus will increase them next 1st of January

Boeing has updated the prices of their aircraft in August.

model (million $)        Boeing         Airbus.      
767-300ER              185.8 USD
A330-200                                     216.1 USD
787-8                        211.8 USD
A350-800                                     254.3 USD
787-9                        249.5 USD
A350-900                                     287.7 USD
A350-1000                                   332.1 USD

Airbus will update the catalog prices on 1st of January as usual.

Price, while important, is only part of the equation, given that the airlines will get substantial discounts off the list price. Timing may prove to be the deciding factor in many negotiations..

22 September 2013

The A350 MSN1 will fly outside of Europe in November.

The A350 XWB first flying prototype MSN1 will fly abroad to Dubai in November and to Bolivia probably in December. But it will fly before to Germany, Great Britain and Spain to show the aircraft to Airbus teams involved in the development for last 5 years.

The Dubai Airshow, which opens on 16/Nov., might be the first occasion for the A350 to land at an airport outside of Europe.

The A350 will be spending more time abroad for hot-and-high tests. These could still happen before the end of the year or they could shift into early 2014, depending on progress achieved in the other areas. These trials are to take place in South America, possibly in La Paz, Bolivia, although Airbus has not confirmed the site. La Paz has been used for such trials in previous campaigns, including for the A340-600.

Based on the article “Testing Times” published in Aviation Week.

21 September 2013

A350 XWB driving motivation. Video

Airbus has released this video where different Airbus members talk about their jobs and functions within the A350 XWB program.

Airbus has been working to join and unify the company’s international teams in a “one family” which combine their unique skills and experiences.

click on the image to watch the video

In the video, different engineers, technicians and operators from different Airbus sites explain their experience. The words “proud”, “challenge” and “motivation” are used by many of them.

The aircraft is not only “manufactured” in Toulouse but also in Nantes (F), Getafe (Sp), Stade (G), Broughton (UK), Filton (UK) and Hamburg (G), sites shown in the video between all the factories and sites involved in the program.


click on the image to watch the video

20 September 2013

A350 MSN1 flying together with A330 and A380 prototypes

Click the image to watch the video

The Airbus widebody family of flight test aircraft, the A380 (F-WWDD), A330 (F-WWCB) and the first prototype MSN1 of the A350 XWB, took off from 32L runway in Toulouse on Thursday flying together for the first time before continuing on separate flight test missions.

Based on the press release “A350 XWB joins the A330 and A380 for an Airbus “Xtra-widebody” family flight”

19 September 2013

Lufthansa places an order of 25 A350-900 and an option for additional 30 A350 aircraft, that could be A350-1000. And also commits with the first orders for Boeing 777-9X

Lufthansa has announced its largest ever order for 59 Airbus and Boeing wide-body jets in a deal worth 14 billion euros ($18.7 billion) at list prices that will see it launch a new version of Boeing's 777 jet.

The airline’s supervisory board approved the deal at a meeting on Wednesday, committing to 34 777-9Xs and 25 A350-900s. The first A350s are due for delivery in 2016, and the first 777X is expected to arrive in the Lufthansa fleet in 2020. Lufthansa says it has the flexibility through options and purchase rights to increase the 777X order to 64 units and the A350 commitment to 55 aircraft.

Lufthansa could use options to buy A350-1000s, its CEO said. "You can assume that Lufthansa always tries to ensure flexibility in orders like this," he said when asked whether Lufthansa could use options to buy the largest variant of Airbus's A350 family instead of the A350-900.

Lufthansa plans to replace 13 747-400s and 17 A340-300s. Should the airline decide to cut capacity plans further, it would also start retiring its fleet of 24 A340-600s.

The order is for the core airline only, but the group could use options to renew the long-haul fleets at Swiss or Austrian if needed. As part of the deal, Lufthansa has also reached “strategic agreement” with Rolls-Royce to be allowed to perform maintenance on the TrentXWB engines.

Lufthansa plans to operate the A350-900 in two-class and three class configurations.
The airline’s future long-haul fleet will consist of A380s, 747-8s, 777-9Xs, A350-900s and A330-300s, once all of its A340s are phased out.

The carrier decided not to order the 787 for a variety of reasons. “The 787-9 is too small for our requirements and the 787-10 does not have the necessary range for around 40% of the destinations,” says Carsten Spohr, CEO of the passenger airline division.

Based on the article “Lufthansa could use options to buy A350-1000s – CEO” published in Reuters and on the article “Lufthansa Commits To 777-9X and A350-900” published in Aviation Week.

18 September 2013

What does the team of 28 test pilots do when the external factors do not allow previously planned programs in the A350 XWB test-flights?

Not all of the current flying is devoted to establishing the right configuration; systems-testing and handling-quality work is also included, particularly when external factors do not allow programs such as climb performance runs. These took place in late August, says Airbus Chief Test Pilot Peter Chandler.

20 of Airbus's 28 test pilots have already flown the A350, and the remaining few will have logged at least one A350 flight by the end of the month, when they return from summer vacations.

Based on the article “Testing Times” published in Aviation Week.

17 September 2013

EADS CEO Enders: “If German Government does not complete the payment of A350 star-up funding, it would have consequences.”

Kindermann asked Enders about the A350 XWB payment pending by German Federal Government; “from 1.1 billion euros were been said to, Airbus is still waiting for slightly more than half of the amount which is not paid out. Why not?”

And Tom Enders explains that the answer is linked with the topic they have talked before; “Where are the limits of industrial policy?”

“Look, there is an established system confirmed some time ago that you can make on start-up funding. Start-up financing means that the money will be returned after that even with interest. And all Governments in Europe have earned relatively good actually.”

He continued: “Governments can expect certain rewards for it, is also understandable. But there are limits somewhere. And exactly this is the discussion with the Federal Government - where are the limits.”

Enders said the limits are “relatively clear” to him but he avoid detailing more. “We talked a long time about this topic. For me this discussion is actually out of date.”

When asked about possible impacts for German sites and jobs, EADS CEO Tom Enders is quite direct: “If France, Spain and UK pay their contributions according to agreements -and of course they receive the normal consideration- and German Government doesn't do it, I cannot sit down and say: this has no consequences. That would be bad for the rest of the community.”

Based on the interview to Thomas Enders in dradio by Klemens Kindermann

16 September 2013

First A350 Elevators assembled in China finished.

Harbin Hafei Airbus Composite Manufacturing Centre (HMC), a joint venture between Airbus and its Chinese partners, has presented in a ceremony the first ship set of A350 Elevators assembled in China.

HMC is a Tier2 of Spain-based Aernnova Aerospace (ANN) Tier1, who will deliver them to the Airbus plant in Getafe (Spain) for the MSN13 in 2014, where they will be integrated into the horizontal tail plane HTP.

Under a contract signed by HMC and ANN in 2010, HMC is responsible for manufacturing and assembling the complete set of carbon fibre elevators. During the initial phase the A350 elevators have been solely produced at ANN. Assembly in China started in 2012 and the manufacturing in 2013. After a period of transition, during which the elevators are produced at both ANN and HMC, the Harbin Manufacturing Centre will become the sole supplier of A350 XWB elevators.

Rafael González-Ripoll, Airbus China COO, said: “This delivery is an important milestone in our long-term partnership with the Chinese aviation industry. The Chinese have every reason to be proud of the contribution they are making to the A350 XWB.”

Geng Ruguang, Executive Vice President of AVIC, the parent company of the majority shareholding Chinese partners of the HMC, said: “It’s inspiring for the Chinese aviation industry to be involved in the development and production of the A350 XWB, which is the world’s most advanced and most efficient aircraft, and to become an integrated part of Airbus’ global supply chain. The delivery of the first A350 XWB elevator demonstrates one more step forward of HMC towards its set target. The development of HMC will also constitute a pulling force for the relevant local industries.”

Pedro Fuente, COO of Aernnova, said: “We at Aernnova are really satisfied with the very effective teamwork model developed together with the HMC to industrialize and progressively transfer the A350 XWB Elevators. We are impressed by the fast growing capabilities we are seeing every day. Clearly these are great pillars for a long term collaboration and mutual success.”

Among the participants at the ceremony were Chinese government officials, Spanish Government representatives, executives of Airbus and its Chinese partners including AVIC, representatives of Aernnova and other industry professionals.

Based on the press release “Harbin Composite Manufacturing Centre delivers 1st major A350 part.”

15 September 2013

Lufthansa would split the order of about 50 aircraft between the A350-900 and the 777-9X which is due to fly by decade´s end. The A350-1000 could get finally out of the order as well as the 787-10.

Bloomberg is reporting that Lufthansa will split an order for about 50 widebody aircraft between Airbus A350-900 and Boeing, becoming the first buyer of the 777X.

The twin-engine jets of the purchase with a list value of at least $14 billion, will be Boeing’s new 777-9X, which is due to fly by decade’s end, and Airbus’s A350-900, said two of the people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t yet public. An announcement may come as soon as next week, the people said.

Dividing the deal provides a boost for both plane-makers after the German airline had said the order would be a winner-take-all contest. Lufthansa hasn’t bought 777s for its own passenger operations before, and has previously relied heavily on jets from France-based Airbus.

Boeing jets will make up a majority of the order, said one of the people.

“No fleet decision has yet been taken by the Lufthansa supervisory board,” Thomas Jachnow, a Lufthansa spokesman, said on 13/Sep by telephone. Any announcement will follow the board’s approval of management’s fleet recommendation, he said.

Based on the article “777X said to be part of coming Lufthansa order” published in Bloomberg News