1995: Airbus Chief Sets New Course


Jean Pierson was a legendary figure at Airbus. He was the longest serving managing director of the consortium and a strong personality. Pierson guided Airbus through its second development phase: the manufacturer was no longer the complete outsider like in the early 1970s, but it also was not yet established as one of the two players in a stable duopoly.

In 1995, Pierson, who is now 72 and retired, was interviewed by Aviation Week’s Pierre Sparaco. Reading the interview, it becomes evident how radically things have changed: its high capacity aircraft concept, dubbed A3XX at the time, is now in service as the A380. it is an integrated company and most of its shareholders merged to form EADS in 2000. 

Pierson was right in one of his predictions. McDonnell Douglas’ market share would go down to zero. But he was wrong in another one: The future large aircraft (the Airbus A400M) will “contribute to Airbus’ overall efficiency,” Pierson argued. Well, not quite. 

And: the final assembly line will be located “at one of the two existing production facilities”, Hamburg or Toulouse. “I’m sorry for Alenia and CASA, national pride has no role to play here.” The A400M final assembly line is in Seville/Spain.

The interview with Airbus Industrie managing director Jean Pierson was published in Aviation Week & Space Technology on January 23, 1995. Click here to read it.

► Aviation Week is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history, including viewpoints from the industry's most iconic names and stories that have helped change the shape of the industry.

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