Airbus A350 Gets Supplier Headache as A320 Faces Delivery Hurdle

  • Wide-body model has more than just seat issues, Bregier says
  • Single-aisle upgrade could miss December handover to Qatar

Airbus Group SE said it’s struggling to maintain momentum as it ramps up production of the new A350 wide-body jet, while the re-engined version of the single-aisle A320 plane could miss the targeted handover date.

About half a dozen suppliers are experiencing difficulties in meeting demand for A350 cabin equipment, Fabrice Bregier, who leads Airbus’s planemaking unit, said Wednesday. While Zodiac Aerospace has had well-documented issues delivering seats, Bregier said it’s not alone in being stretched.

“Cabin suppliers, not all of them, but a majority, are very good at marketing and selling, but less good at designing, and some are even c--p at producing,” he said at Airbus’s headquarters in Toulouse, France. “Put all that together and this is not easy.”

Airbus itself remains on schedule to deliver 15 A350s this year and double that in 2016 before reaching full production of 10 a month in 2018, Bregier said, without revealing whether supplier issues could at some point slow the handover of otherwise complete aircraft. The company has sent several dozen staff to help troubled suppliers manage the workloads, he said.

Engine Issue

Items such as seats and galleys are “buyer-furnished equipment” selected by airlines for subsequent installation, though Airbus is encouraging airlines to stick with trusted producers, said Bregier, who spoke after the handover of an A350 to Finnair Oyj, the new model’s first European operator.

Meeting the targeted December delivery of the initial A320neo aircraft to Qatar Airways Ltd. will be challenging after a test plane last week suffered damage to one of its two Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines during flight trials in hot-weather conditions, Bregier said.

The executive said he’d still personally bet on the plane being delivered before the end of 2015“Was it as smooth as we expected? No. Does it mean we will fail? No. We’re in the final phase of flight testing. My hope is that we will certify this engine.”

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