The Making of Airbus A380: A Triumph of Science and Engineering

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Case Details:

Case Code : OPER056
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1999-2006
Organization : Airbus, Boeing
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : France, Germany, Spain
Industry : Aircraft Manufacturing

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Introduction Contd...

The A380 was designed by Airbus in collaboration with 60 major airports to integrate the aircraft into normal passenger service as smoothly as possible. Airbus adopted a decentralized manufacturing process. The centers which manufactured various parts were spread out across Europe and the final assembly was done at Toulouse, France.

Materials like composites8 and GLARE9, which reduced the overall weight of the aircraft, were used in the manufacture of the A380.

By February 2006, the A380 had received 159 orders and deliveries were to start in mid-2006 (Refer to Exhibit II for the Orders of the A380 till March 2006). The launch customer of the A380, Singapore Airlines, with an order of 10 A380s, stated the aircraft's value proposition when it said, "It will be used to expand operations to heavily traveled cities that had slot constraints. It's not about offering more point-to-point flights, but rather, to meet increasing demands within existing limitations."10

Background Note

Based in Toulouse, France, Airbus was earlier known as Airbus Industrie. It began as a consortium of European aviation companies to compete with American companies like Boeing, Lockheed11, and McDonnell Douglas12.

In September 1967, the British, French, and German governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop a 300-seater aircraft, the Airbus 300 (A300). However, the British Government decided to withdraw from the project in 1969. Airbus Industrie was formally established in 1970 under an agreement between Aerospatiale of France, Deutsche Aerospace (DASA) of Germany, and British Aerospace (BAE) of Great Britain. In 1971, CASA (Construcciones Aeronáuticas) of Spain joined in. All the four partners13 started operating as national companies and had the responsibility of producing parts for the aircraft. These were then to be transported to Toulouse for final assembly...

Excerpts >>

8]  Composites are formed by combining two or more materials with different properties. The advantage of composites is that they are robust, lightweight, and can withstand heat and cold better than a metal.

9] GLARE (Glass Reinforced Laminate) is an aluminum glass fiber laminate.

10] Madshansen, "Both A380 and 787 Have Bright Futures,", March 02, 2005.

11] Lockheed is a US-based aerospace company originally founded in 1912 and merged later with Martin Marietta in 1995 to form Lockheed Martin.

12] McDonnell Douglas was a major American aerospace manufacturer, producing a number of famous commercial and military aircraft. It merged with Boeing in 1997.

13] In the year 2000, DASA, Aerospatiale, and CASA merged to form EADS. In 2001, BAE and EADS formed Airbus SAS.


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