Airliner manufacturer Airbus expects to lose about one month’s production of its A380 Superjumbo this year as it phases in a new wing design for the aircraft. It hopes to recover this lost production next year. This was revealed by company president and CEO Fabrice Brégier at the annual Airbus press conference on Thursday.
The company had to redesign the A380’s wing after two different types of cracks were found in brackets used to attach the skin of the wing to the ribs within the wing. Production of the new wing has started, he reported. It would be incorporated into new build aircraft delivered from 2014 onwards and retrofitted into the existing A380s.
The company won orders for nine A380s during 2012. It delivered 30 of them, which was “what we planned”. (A380 deliveries totalled 26 in 2011.) “The A380 is now operated as a normal series programme,” he stated.
The company does not expect any delay in the aircraft reaching its break-even point. “We didn’t change our target on break-even on the A380,” said Brégier in response to a question. “We still aim to break-even in 2015. I see no reason to change this target. We aim to break-even with 30 deliveries in 2015.”
There are now 97 A380s flying in revenue service around the world. “This airplane has now become integrated into [routine] air traffic,” pointed out Airbus chief operating officer–customers John Leahy.
In the very large aircraft (VLA) market segment (made up of the A380 and the Boeing 747), the Airbus aircraft has now won nine out of ten contracts, “admittedly off a very small base,” he observed. The European company expects to continue to dominate the VLA market.
Leahy noted that the air transport industry was continuing to grow strongly and wondered how that growth could be accommodated with aircraft like the A380. He also revealed that the current (2013) catalogue price for an A380 was $403.9-million.