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More delays in store for the superjumbo

Late last month, DailyTech reported that Airbus was delaying its A380 superjumbo airliner due to problems with wiring. On Wednesday, the company announced that it was delaying its entire A380 program by a full year. As a result, the first production A380 will not be delivered until October of 2007.

The news has disappointed many airliners including Singapore Airlines and Qantas. In fact, Airbus has to fork over $22 million USD to India’s KingFisher Airlines because of the delay. Malaysia Airlines, a company that has been in serious financial trouble lately, could cancel its order for six planes altogether or at the very least look for an interim solution. There’s also word that EADS may sell off a 20% stake in Airbus that it aquired from BAE.

Airbus is trying it best with damage control and it is offering some insight into the problem that it is having. The following is from a speech given by Christian Streiff Speech, Airbus President and CEO:

The issue of the electrical harnesses is extremely complex, with 530km of cables, 100,000 wires, and 40,300 connectors. It is twice as complex as for our next largest aircraft, the A340-600! And the depth of the problem was not fully understood in June. The full analysis over these past weeks has revealed it is much worse than expected.

The root cause of the issue is that there were incompatibilities in the development of the concurrent engineering tools to be used for the design of the electrical harnesses installation. Quite simply, while the A380 is the most-advanced and modern plane ever made, the wiring harness installation design package in the forward and rear fuselage could not keep pace with the rest of the aircraft programme. Also, the learning curve for wiring harness changes was too steep during the complex development phase. We have to update and harmonize the 3D- design tools and data base – and it will take time to do this.

On top of all of that, Rolls-Royce announced today that it will halt production of its Trent 900 engine and that it will deliver at most 30 engines to Airbus by the end of 2006. According to contractual obligations, Rolls-Royce will supply 48% of the engines used in the A380 -- the remaining 52% will be supplied by rival General Electric.

At this rate, the A380 will be entering service just ahead of Rolls-Royce-engined Boeing 787 Dreamliner which is due to go into service in 2008.

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Boeing 787 is also made in several places
By kmmatney on 10/6/2006 6:48:46 PM , Rating: 2
Just read uyp on the Boeing 787, and it is being made from parts all over the place, not very different to Airbus in this regard:

"The major structural work is being shared by principal industrial partners in USA, Japan and Europe. Boeing will be responsible for about 33% of the production with the flight deck and fuselage being manufactured at Wichita, the wings and the fuselage fairings at Winnipeg, Canada, the fin at Frederickson, and the moving leading and trailing edges of the wings at Tulsa and at Boeing Australia. Japan's Fuji Heavy Industries will manufacture the centre wing box and install the wells. Kawasaki Heavy Industries is responsible for the manufacture of the mid forward section of the fuselage, the fixed section of the wings and the landing gear well. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will manufacture the wing box. The all-composite nose section is being built by Spirit Aerosystems of Wichita.

A joint venture company, Global Aeronautica, set up by Vought Aircraft Industries and Alenia Aeronautica, is responsible for the manufacture of the mid section and rear section of the fuselage including the tailplane, representing a 26% share of production which will be based at Charleston, South Carolina. The French company Latecoere will supply the passenger doors. Goodrich will provide the nacelles and thrust reverser."

By Mclendo06 on 10/7/2006 12:00:32 PM , Rating: 2
This modular construction has already become the norm. Boeing today is much less an aircraft builder than a systems integrator. A funny anecdote which a Boeing engineer shared with me - they have a problem currently with the 737 fuselages. They are built in Wichita, Kansas, loaded onto rail cars (it's pretty cool to see one) and transported by rail to Washington for assembly. Apparently, however, someone (or several people) who live in Wyoming or Idaho near the rail don't have enough to do, and so they like to shoot at the passing 737 fuselages. Very often these fuselages arrive in Washington with more than a few bullet holes. Of course, these are carefully repaired as is any other damage incurred during transportation. It is funny, though, to think that that 737 you're flying in has taken "battle damage".

With regards to Airbus, this delay is going to sting for sure. The airlines ordering the first batch of A380s is already gettting a discount for being the first orders, but airlines always write into contracts provisions which give them discounts for late delivery of the aircraft. One year means that they are going to get these planes for a song, and government-subsidized Airbus will have to foot a good portion of the bill on very expensive airplane. As for the 787, Boeing is also running a very aggressive schedule. They are supposed to try to get certification flights going within a year or so. Also, there is a lot of new stuff that they are doing since the plane is made entirely out of composites, so they may end up having some kinks to work out as well. Boeing pulled off an agressive schedule with the 777, though, so it is possible that they could do it again.

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