Preparing the future (2009-2010)

The A380 makes a practice run ahead of the show's opening display

The 21st century flagship A380 built on Airbus’ success during its first 40 years.

In 2009, Airbus celebrated the milestone 40th anniversary of its first aircraft programme’s launch – along with the four decades of innovation and success that followed.

Looking forward to the next 40 years in its role as an industry leader, Airbus built on its positive momentum during 2009-2010 with important orders and deliveries, new aircraft programme developments and key technological advancements.

Record-breaking deliveries and business agreements


Airbus delivered its 6,000th aircraft – an A380 for Emirates – in 2010.

Airbus set an all-time company record in 2009 with 498 aircraft deliveries, which included: its handover of the 4,000th A320 Family jetliner – an A319 for Brazilian flag carrier TAM – from the final assembly line in Hamburg, Germany; delivery of the 500th A321 aircraft, received by Air France; and the 30th A380, provided to Emirates.

Air France became the initial European carrier to receive an A380, taking delivery on 30 October 2009 – inaugurating the first commercial flights in November between Europe and the United States with Airbus’ 21st century flagship jetliner.

Lufthansa joined the growing list of A380 airlines with the 19 May 2010 delivery of its no. 1 aircraft – which joined the operator’s expansive Airbus fleet of jetliners ranging from single-aisle A319s, A320s and A321s to widebody A300s, A330s and A340s.

Airbus handed over its 6,000th aircraft in January 2010, and in doing so underscored the company’s continued role as a leading provider of highly efficient jetliners to customers worldwide. This historic aircraft was an A380 for Emirates, which has flown Airbus-built airliners from its creation in 1985. “It took 19 years for Airbus to produce its first 1,000 aircraft, and just two years for the latest 1,000,” said President and CEO Tom Enders at the milestone delivery ceremony in Hamburg. “Our strong order backlog and the continued delivery rates will help us on our way to reaching the 7,000th.”

On 18 May 2009, Airbus’ Tianjin facility marked a milestone of its own when the first jetliner built on this Chinese final assembly line – an A320 – completed its maiden flight, taking off from Tianjin International Airport for a 4 hr. 14 min. airborne evaluation. This same A320 was delivered on 23 June 2009 to Dragon Aviation Leasing for operation by Chengu-based carrier Sichuan Airlines, marking the first customer handover of an Airbus jetliner produced outside Europe.

Key agreements signed during the 2009-2010 time period included the largest order in civil aviation history (by U.S. dollar value): 32 additional A380s for Emirates at a value of more than $15.3 billion, announced during the ILA Berlin Air Show in June 2010; and the 500th order for Airbus’ new-generation A350 XWB, booked by Ethiopian Airlines at the November 2009 Dubai Airshow.

New aircraft development milestones

A330-200F  Airbus first flight

The A330-200F’s first flight was performed on 5 November 2009 from Toulouse, France – the home to Airbus headquarters.

From a programme aspect, 2009-2010 brought significant development strides for three future Airbus aircraft: the A350 XWB, the modern mid-size A330-200F freighter and the A400M military airlifter.

Airbus’ A350 XWB programme transitioned from concept to reality in early 2009 with an important milestone: construction start-up of the A350 final assembly line. The 74,000-square metre facility in Toulouse, France, is designed for a parallel work flow capacity of more than 10 A350s per month.

Later that year, an initial composite panel for the long-range A350 XWB was manufactured in a lay-up process at Airbus’ Nantes, France facility. With a surface area of 36 square metres, this centre wing-box panel – entirely made of carbon – was the largest “monobloc” composite panel ever manufactured at the site.

Another new Airbus aircraft, the A330-200F, received its Type Certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency at the conclusion of a successful 200-hour flight test campaign with both available engine types – the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 and Rolls-Royce Trent 700. The certification milestone occurred in April 2010, and paved the way for the freighter’s delivery start-up, targeted for later in the year.

Airbus’ multi-role A400M airlifter performed a highly successful maiden flight in late 2009, initiating a 3,700-hr. test and certification campaign in advance of its future service entry. Powered by four 11,000-shp. turboprop engines, the no. 1 A400M lifted off from Seville Airport in Spain on 11 December 2009 for a 3-hour, 47-minute-long first mission, during which the six-member crew validated a significant portion of the A400M’s flight envelope.

The A400M made its public debut during the June 2010 Berlin Air Show. Taking part in the event’s flying display, this airlifter showcased its rapid climb-out capabilities, slow-speed handling qualities and manoeuvrability during flight demonstrations.

A400M flight demonstration: a different perspective

This video clips provides a glimpse of Airbus Military’s A400M in flight during the 2010 Berlin Air Show – enhanced by first-hand footage collected from multiple on-board cameras. Developed in an international program, this all-new multi-role airlifter is tailored for strategic, tactical and tanker missions.

A400M flight demonstration: a different perspective

A focus on innovation and technology

A320neo – Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM 1

The A320 Family offers new fuel saving engine options.

Airbus continued its efforts to improve air transport’s overall eco-efficiency during 2009 and 2010 with a series of key milestones – led by an extension of ISO 14001 environmental certification to each of the company’s existing facilities in America and China.

In September 2009, Airbus delivered the first of two A318s equipped with “steep approach” capability to British Airways for operation on long-haul flights between London City and New York’s JFK Airport. The A318’s ability to land at steeper than usual gradients and its ultra-low noise characteristics make it ideal for operations at downtown airports and in other constrained locations.

Airbus unveiled its advanced Sharklet™ wingtip devices during the 2009 Dubai Airshow with an initial commitment from Air New Zealand. Offered as optional equipment on new production A320-series aircraft, Sharklets provide aerodynamic improvements that result in a number of benefits for operators – including lower fuel burn, reduced emissions and increased range. At the 2010 Berlin Air Show, Finnair became the first operator agreeing to acquire A321s equipped with these fuel-saving devices.

Also showing progress were Airbus-supported environmental initiatives such as Tarmac Aerosave – a joint-venture company for the dismantling of end-of-life aircraft in an entirely “green” manner – which became operational during 2009.  In addition, Airbus partnered with the U.N. Environment Programme’s Convention on Biological Diversity to support the Green Wave, a 2010 initiative to raise awareness among young people about the complexity of life on earth and its role in a sustainable future.

In December 2010, Airbus announced its offer of new fuel-saving engines as an option on the A319, A320 and A321.  Designated the A320neo, this option applies the advantages of engine technologies that are becoming available in the middle of this decade, providing a choice of CFM International’s LEAP-X and the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100G.   In addition, the A320neo incorporates Sharklet wing tip devices.  The A320neo brings the minimum in change for maximum benefit on Airbus’ best-selling A320 Family of jetliners, resulting in a 15 per cent reduction in fuel consumption, two tonnes of additional payload, up to 500 nautical miles of more range, lower operating costs, along with reductions in engine noise and emissions.

In its eco-efficiency roadmap, Airbus continued to support environmental initiatives such as Tarmac Aerosave – a joint-venture company for the dismantling of end-of-life aircraft in an entirely “green” manner – which became operational during 2009.  In addition, Airbus partnered with the U.N. Environment Programme’s Convention on Biological Diversity to support the Green Wave, a 2010 initiative to raise awareness among young people about the complexity of life on earth and its role in a sustainable future.



Source :  Airbus Website

Challenges and achievements (2006-2009)

As Airbus approached its 40-year anniversary in 2009, the company was doing what it does best: expanding the jetliner family, broadening its worldwide customer base, and seeking innovative ways to remain a market leader.

And – as it has done during many periods of its four-decade existence – Airbus was achieving these goals after flying through turbulence, both inside and outside the company.

The period from 2006 to 2009 included the A380’s certification by European and U.S. airworthiness authorities, clearing the way for this 21st century flagship’s commercial service introduction in October 2007. Also during this timeframe, Airbus launched its all-new A350 XWB, gave the programme go-ahead for a freighter version of its popular A330-200, and became a key player in the marketplace for military airlifters.

A further expansion

The three-year period also saw Airbus’ corporate and VIP jetliner family expand with the A318 Elite’s introduction as its smallest member, and the first booking of an A380 as the world’s largest VVIP aircraft. A major step in Airbus’ internationalisation was the rapid-paced development of its initial final assembly line outside of Europe, which is located in Tianjin, China and produces A320 Family aircraft – the first of which made its initial flight in May 2009.

During the same time, Airbus was faced with challenges on multiple fronts: its A380 production was lagging, the A350 underwent a makeover, and the internal and external effects of a weak dollar were magnified by growing pressures on the worldwide economy – which ultimately developed into the global economic “meltdown” beginning in late 2008.

The A380 takes centre stage


Singapore Airlines’ first A380 was received by the carrier at the ultra-modern Airbus Delivery Centre in Toulouse, France.

An historic Airbus achievement occurred on October 15, 2007 with the first delivery of an A380 – which was received by Singapore Airlines. During a colourful ceremony at Airbus’ Toulouse, France delivery centre, Singapore Airlines unveiled its new interior for the double-deck aircraft, using a cabin layout featuring 471 seats in three classes – including individual suites for premium passengers. Singapore Airlines inaugurated A380 revenue service on 25 October, 2007, operating the Rolls-Royce Trent 900-powered aircraft on its Singapore-Sydney route.

The carrier also received Airbus’ next three A380s, followed by the initial aircraft for Emirates, which was presented at the Hamburg, Germany delivery centre on 28 July, 2008. This was the first A380 delivered with Engine Alliance GP7200 powerplants, and Emirates used a 489-passenger configuration for its aircraft – composed of 14 first class suites, 76 business class seats and 399 in economy – along with innovative ceiling mood lighting throughout the cabin.

Qantas became the third airline to receive the A380, with its no.1 aircraft provided on 19 September 2008. Equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, Qantas configured its aircraft in an extra spacious 450-seat arrangement, accommodating 14 passengers in first, 72 in business, 32 in premium economy and 332 in economy.

With the worldwide A380 fleet crossing the globe on routes to Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America, the jetliner quickly became a passenger favourite, and was confirmed as the quietest aircraft in the skies – both in terms of external noise levels and the internal passenger cabin environment.

First A380 delivery to Singapore Airlines

The first ever A380 is handed over to Singapore Airlines on 15 October 2007. Highlights from this milestone delivery ceremony include comments by Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders, who calls the next-generation jetliner “unquestionably the defining aircraft of its generation.” Remarks by Rolls Royce Chief Executive Officer John Rose and Singapore Airlines Chief Executive Officer Chew Choon Seng are also featured.

Overcoming challenges

Building the world’s largest airliner was not without difficulties, however. Bottlenecks encountered in the definition, manufacturing and installation of the A380’s electrical systems and their more than 500 km. of internal wiring – combined with the customisation of aircraft to customer specifications – led to the build-up of delivery delays. In June 2006, Airbus outlined a series of actions dealing with the situation, including new processes for the outfitting of A380 fuselage sections and a revised pacing of their transfer to the final assembly line. The recovery process would take some time to put the A380 output back on track, but its initial results were confirmed with Airbus’ delivery of 12 aircraft to customers during 2008, meeting a personal commitment made by company President and CEO Tom Enders.

Another challenge faced by Airbus was bringing the new A350 to market. Originally launched in December 2004, the A350 was designed to complement Airbus’ existing A330-200 and A330-300 jetliners, offering extended range while retaining the same 222-inch (5.64-metre) fuselage cross-section used in the A330/A340 and the original A300/A310 aircraft. However, A350 customers were pushing for a more radical evolution with this new-generation aircraft, and after much discussion and debate, Airbus undertook a redesign that included an expansion of the A350’s fuselage cross-section to 232 inches (5.9 metres). On December 1, 2006, Airbus announced the industrial launch of the revamped A350 XWB (extra widebody) as its new medium-capacity long-range aircraft family.

Growth of the A350 XWB


The A350 XWB’s widebody fuselage provides optimum seating efficiency for revenue potential.

Finnair was the first airline to sign a firm A350 XWB contract, becoming the initial customer in March 2007 to convert its original purchase of A350s into an order for A350 XWBs. This was followed by A350 XWB orders and commitments from airlines and leasing companies in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, as well as North and South America – confirming that Airbus had once again surmounted another test of its will in the high-stakes game of commercial aviation.

Challenges faced by Airbus during the 2006-2009 period were not only related to its new aircraft programmes. The company was feeling the direct impact of a weak U.S. dollar, while many of its customers were reviewing their aircraft order and delivery commitments as they reacted to global financial pressures that cut into their passenger volume and impacted the bottom line.

These were among the factors that contributed to the development of a strategy for a “new Airbus,” which started with the Power8 restructuring plan. Introduced in February 2007, Power8 was designed to help Airbus face the very substantial challenge of the U.S. dollar’s weakness, as well as increased competitive pressures, the financial burden related to A380 delays, and the need to meet its future investment needs. This programme – and the steps that followed – provided for responsive cost-cutting measures, helped transform the Airbus business model, and realigned its network of facilities and partners.

The next-generation A350 XWB

A350 XWB Programme Head Didier Evrard looks back on an important year for Airbus’ newest product line. Activities during 2008 include the rollout of the first A350 fuselage barrel in May, a key event with some 30 airline customers in June and the continuation of the design freeze process. Evrard is interviewed on the occasion of the January 2009 groundbreaking ceremony for the new A350 XWB final assembly line.

Laying foundations

Leading the way

Tianjin Assembly Line

Airbus’ first final assembly line outside of Europe – located at Tianjin, China – was inaugurated in 2008.

Despite the global financial pressures and internal trials, Airbus continued the sustained production of its successful A320 single-aisle Family and the A330/A340 widebodies, responding to the growing order book and an expanding list of customers. Programme milestones included Airbus’ January 2007 delivery of the 3,000th single-aisle aircraft, with AirAsia receiving an A320 as this milestone jetliner. During the same month, Airbus reached the 5,000th order mark for its A320 Family. Also in 2007, the 800th A330/A340 Family aircraft was provided to a customer (an A330-200 received by Qatar Airways in March), and the 5,000th overall Airbus delivery milestone occurred on December 14 with the handover of an A330-200 to Qantas.

Building on the unparalleled success of its A320 Family, Airbus expanded its industrial network by creating a new final assembly line in China – the company’s first outside of Europe. The decision to locate this facility in Tianjin was announced in June 2006, and a framework agreement for its development was signed in October 2006 with a Chinese consortium comprising the Tianjin Free Trade Zone, China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I), and China Aviation Industry Corporation II. A formal kickoff of the Tianjin final assembly line’s construction occurred in May 2007, and the initial aircraft built at this facility – an A320 for Dragon Aviation Leasing – made its maiden flight on 18 May, 2009.

Throughout the company’s history, Airbus has always taken the long view of its role in the global aviation marketplace. Looking to the future, this is reflected by Airbus’ major commitment to limiting aviation’s impact on the environment, and includes its role in the European Clean Sky initiative (one of the largest ever European-funded research and technology programmes), as well as support for eco-efficient technologies such as synthetic jet fuel and the eventual use of fuel cells as emission-free onboard energy sources. Airbus’ eco-efficient efforts are focussed on the full life cycle of its products, and range from the ISO 14001 environmental certification of its production sites and facilities (an aerospace industry first) to the development of recycling procedures for aircraft once they reach the end of their useful lives.


Source :  Airbus Website

The “wow” factor… and a new era dawns (2004-2007)

Airbus’ A380 final assembly line was officially opened in May 2004.

On 7 May, 2004, before more than 3,000 guests, the French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin officially opened the A380 final assembly line in Toulouse. The size of the site itself was impressive enough – the main assembly hall was one of the largest buildings of its kind, measuring 490 metres by 250 metres with a height of 46 metres and, with other buildings on the site, comprised 32,000 tonnes of steel (the equivalent of four Eiffel Towers).

But the impact of the occasion was even more so. Now the pioneering spirit of Airbus which had inspired the company’s success from the very earliest days and through all its programmes and technological innovations had risen again in the A380. It was more than a new aircraft capable of carrying 525 people in two classes 8,000 nm/15,000 km – or non-stop from Europe to Asia, North America and South America.

Production of major components for the first A380s, which would be used for ground and flight tests to achieve certification, were well-advanced – the airframe to be used for structural tests was revealed in its assembly jigs at the A380 Final Assembly Line opening ceremony. Using its innovative know-how Airbus had devised a new system to transport the wings, fuselage sections and horizontal tailplane on a specially-built ferry, then by barge and road to Toulouse from its manufacturing sites in France, Germany, Spain and Britain.

As the year moved on, the first complete A380 to be assembled came off the production line and was painted in readiness for its unveiling to the world.

“A new way of flying”

The A380 was unveiled at Airbus’ Jean-Luc Lagardère final assembly facility in Toulouse, France.

The A380 Reveal on 18 January, 2005, created publicity around the world and won plaudits for its imaginative style. The national leaders of Britain, France, Spain and Germany joined more than 5,000 guests – including customers, suppliers and hundreds of journalists – to witness the unveiling of the aircraft Airbus said would usher in “a new way of flying”. The aircraft was painted in a new Airbus livery. By now there were 14 launch customers and 149 orders for the A380 and its freighter version, the A380F. The spectacular Reveal ceremony, held in the A380 Final Assembly Facility, featured fireworks, dry ice, lasers, dancers, and projected images of all of Airbus’ aircraft flying around the hall, while a narrator in the form of a hologram wizard spoke of the magic of aviation and how the dream of the A380 had become a reality thanks to the vision and spirit of Airbus. The event was streamed live to hundreds of thousands of people through the website – which recorded a record number of visitors – and a number of television channels broadcast it live. (On the following day some 5,000 Airbus employees enjoyed their own special replica Reveal ceremony, which was broadcast live to employees at Airbus sites around the world.)

Following the Reveal, anticipation built towards the A380’s first flight, which took place in Toulouse on 27 April, 2005, in front of the world’s media. On a brilliant spring day the A380 – with the registration F-WWOW and powered by four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines – took off for a flight lasting three hours and 54 minutes, jointly captained by Claude Lelaie, Senior Vice President Flight Division, and Jacques Rosay, Chief Test Pilot and Vice President. Other crew members on this historic flight were Fernando Alonso, Vice President Flight Division, flight test engineers Jacky Joye and Manfred Birnfeld, and test flight engineer Gérard Desbois. The flight could not have gone more perfectly. Afterwards Rosay said flying the biggest passenger aircraft the world had seen was “like handling a bicycle”. And Lelaie enthused: “We now really sense the potential of this magnificent machine.”

A380: from dream to reality

The first official presentation of the A380 on 18 January 2005 was an event fit for the world’s largest passenger airliner. Watch this ceremony’s memorable moments, from the elaborate sound and light show to the dramatic unveiling of the 21st century flagship jetliner at Airbus’ Toulouse, France headquarters.

A year to remember

With a substantial number of firm orders, the A380’s economy and environmental superiority – along with its technological innovations and use of weight-saving composites confirms Airbus’ position as one of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers. As passenger traffic is expected to triple over the coming 20 years, the A380 will help ease the pressures faced by its customers for airport slots by carrying more people per flight.

But other significant events also made 2005 a year to remember for Airbus. In July came the 2500th delivery of an A320 Family aircraft – an A320 to China Eastern Airlines. The Airbus Corporate Jetliner, based on the A319, enjoyed its most successful year to date by winning 11 new orders and increasing the number of customers to 25 (by end of August). The widebody programme continued to win new orders for its highly-popular A300-600 freighters. And as Airbus strengthened its global foothold, a new engineering centre was set up in China to join others in Wichita (set up in 2002), and a joint venture in Russia (2003), and a second U.S. engineering centre in Mobile, Alabama (in 2007).


Source :  Airbus Website