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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Enders: New Aircraft Builds No ‘Piece Of Cake’

Airbus isn’t gloating over production difficulties with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, recalling its own problems building the A380 superjumbo. Asked his thoughts on successive delays in the 787 program, Airbus CEO Tom Enders, addressing a Singapore Air Show press briefing Wednesday, said, “We’ve taken quite a few lessons from our own failure with the A380, [the] missing thorough integration of processes inside Airbus. … It just tells you it’s not a piece of cake developing, industrializing, these aircraft, these high-technology machines.” Meanwhile, Airbus’s answer to the Dreamliner, the A350XWB, is gaining traction toward its planned entry into service in 2013. Enders reported 310 firm orders from 15 customers for the new widebody, including 20 orders from launch customer Singapore Airlines. There are 2,500 people working on the program, including 800 in Toulouse, France. “We believe, we have every reason to assume, that our supply chain, that our equipment manufacturers can match the ramp-up we and our competitor have ahead of us,” Enders said. In January, France’s Thales was announced as the winning supplier of cockpit avionics for the A350XWB, a contract valued at 2 billion euros over the first 20 years. Other avionics packages are still to be awarded. Honeywell, for example, is bidding for the aircraft’s safety component, offering its Aircraft Environment Surveillance System (AESS), integrating weather radar, terrain warning and TCAS/Mode S transponder.

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