hopes to have a final fix for an wing component cracking problem in hand in “a couple of weeks.”
Progress is being made, and the goal is return the aircraft wing to the full projected life cycle, Airbus Executive VP-Programs Tom Williams tells Aviation Week on the sidelines of the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Achieving the full 19,000 flight cycles is key to financiers.
The fix will be installed on new aircraft, those already in service and those completed and still undergoing cabin furnishing.
Airbus has developed an interim fix to cracking of some rib-feet because of a design flaw that has led to too much strain being placed on the components during assembly. The situation has led to safety authorities requiring an increased inspection regime and forced Airbus-parentto reserve funds to pay for interim fixes to the in-service fleet.
Additionally, Williams says Airbus is pressing ahead with preparations to ramp upoutput to 11 aircraft per month. It announced the objective in March, but noted that moving to that level is contingent on a row with China being resolved over the European Union emissions trading system (ETS). Some further Chinese A330 orders are on hold over Beijing’s opposition to its carriers being included in the ETS. Williams notes, however, that supply chain preparations are being made for the higher rate on the assumption the issue will be resolved, because some components have 36-month lead times.
The global supply chain is already being strained by production boosts at Airbus and other airframers. Williams says with single-aisle production on a pace to reach 42 aircraft per month at Airbus, “the supply chain is beginning to creak.” Airbus is having to send out a large number of engineering teams to help suppliers keep pace, he notes.
That situation is one of the main reasons Airbus is holding off on boosting output to 44 aircraft per month, although Williams sees demand for such production levels.