For more than 15 years, Airbus’ deliveries of commercial aircraft have increased, each year setting new records. This is in addition to corporate jets and military aircraft.
According to a summary of Airbus orders, deliveries, and aircraft in operation as at 30 November 2018:
- 18,973 A300/A310, A220/A320, A330/A340/A350, and A380 aircraft had been ordered.
- 11,636 of these models had been delivered to customers.
- 10,593 of these aircraft were in operation.
Total deliveries for 2017 alone totaled 718, with 1,109 net orders from 44 customers on their books.
What is even more impressive is the complex logistics, wide-ranging expertise, and multinational cooperation that takes place to produce every single one of these aircraft.
Design and Engineering of Airbus Aircraft
With headquarters in Toulouse, France, Airbus operates a global network of design and engineering centers based in the United Kingdom, Germany, North America, Spain, and Russia. Each has its own responsibilities, for instance:
- The Toulouse, France HQ is where engineering, structure testing, and flight tests take place. This is also the delivery center for completed aircraft and where the final assembly lines for A380 jetliners and the A320, A330, and A350 XWB are found. There are also final assembly lines (FAL) in Hamburg, Germany, in Tianjin, China, and in Mobile, Alabama.
- The facility in Mobile, Alabama manufactures various interior elements of the Airbus widebody A330, the A350 XWB, and A380 jetliners.
- In Hamburg, Germany the focus is on structural assembly and the outfitting of fuselage sections. This includes major assembly of components for A380, final assembly of the A320 family of aircraft, and the manufacture and fitting of rear fuselage sections for A350 and A330 XWB programs.
- In Bremen, Germany the focus is on designing and manufacturing high-lift systems for wings of all Airbus models.
- Stade, Germany produces vertical tails and a variety of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic components including spoilers for A330 aircraft and flaps for single-aisle A320.
- Buxtehude, Germany produces cabin management systems and electronic communications elements.
- Saint-Nazaire in France is where structural assembly and testing of both front and central fuselage sections for all Airbus models takes place.
- Nantes, France is responsible for the manufacture and assembly of Airbus aircraft center-wing boxes. This site is also a leader in creating structural parts from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic.
- The facility in Broughton, North Wales assembles more than 1,000 wings for Airbus every year, while the Filton facility focuses on R&T and engineering for landing gear, wing design, and fuel systems.
- Gatafe in Spain specializes in design, engineering, production, and assembly of aeronautical components. It uses both advanced composite and metallic materials for airframe components for all Airbus aircraft.
- In Illescas, Spain the focus is mainly on complex-shaped and large-scale parts while in Puerto Real the specialization is automated assembly of movable surfaces for jetliners and production of the horizontal tail boxes for A350 XWB.
Customized In-House Transportation System for Major Airbus Sections
With major Airbus sections being manufactured all over the world, the challenge is to transport these to final assembly lines.
While the company has always used surface transportation that includes roll-on/roll-off ships to transport fuselage and wing sections, smaller components were transported by air, in Airbus-modified aircraft to meet the challenges.
Using the A300-600 model as a baseline, designers and engineers modified the aircraft to include a bulbous cargo cabin. Called the A300-600ST (super transporter), this specialized aircraft is able to transport a 103,616 lbs (47 metric tonne) payload over 900 nautical miles (1,667 km).
A new-generation “airlifter” based on the A330-200 will be introduced soon, also with an enlarged cargo area.
Test Programs and Certification for Airbus Aircraft
Aircraft products can only be put into service once rigorous tests have been undertaken. These include fuselage pressure tests, fatigue tests, maximum wing-bending tests at limit loads, low-speed takeoffs, rejected takeoffs and landings, performance in extremely hot and cold conditions, and engine water ingestion tests.
Once the aircraft has completed these grueling tests they are issued with a “type certificate” that shows it is airworthy in terms of the aircraft manufacturer’s design. This is followed by the issue of an “airworthiness certificate” that allows aircraft operations in specific regions or countries.
Once this has been done, the aircraft prototype is cleared for service and full-scale series production can begin.
Maintenance of Airbus Aircraft
Once Airbus aircraft are in service, it’s vital to ensure that they are regularly serviced and overhauled if necessary. For this reason, Airbus offers turnkey solutions to make sure that Airbus service and parts are always available. The company also provides Airbus operators with 24/7 assistance for their aircraft.
Prime Industries is an independent company that offers parts, and service and repair of parts service for fixed wing and Airbus helicopters. We are based in the U.S. which can speed up the process if you are in the U.S. as well.
Contact us to see if what you need is in our current inventory. If it isn’t, we will help you find parts that meet your requirements within your budget.