A380 delays are result of “snowball effect“: Airbus CEO Enders

A380Delivery delays on the A380 super jumbo programme announced this week are the result of a "snowball effect" of previous A380 production holdups and do not presage further delays, according to Airbus CEO Tom Enders.

Enders and Mario Heinen, head of the A380 programme, speaking at the manufacturer's annual Technical Press Briefing in Toulouse, said that the super jumbo programme was "stabilizing." According to Enders, the first four A380s, now in service with Singapore Airlines, have "delivered unprecedented levels of operational maturity and performance." This, he said, demonstrated that "we know how to build the plane."

Airbus announced earlier this week that the planned production ramp-up of the A380 "was not fully achievable" and that it would deliver 12 aircraft, rather than 13, this year, and 21 instead of 25 in 2009. It also said that it would deliver only 30 in 2010, instead of the promised 42.

The main reason for the fourth programme delay, they said, was that the company was unable to move key personnel and resources quickly from the Wave 1 aircraft, or those aircraft assembled during low rate individual production, to those constructed in Wave 2, or in the full serial manufacturing process.

Enders said that expert engineers and "certain processes" were required longer than anticipated in Wave 1, resulting in a "knock-on effect" that has now slowed down Wave 2.

He also said that there was "a lack of qualified people for very demanding jobs."

The programme had reached a stage of maturity, however, and "we now know what we are doing,"he said. He pointed out that setting up mass production had taken 15 months, rather than 12, and so each A380, beyond the next few to be delivered, would now be delayed by an average of three months.