Skip to comments.Airbus Curtails Production Of A380 Freight Superjumbo
Posted on 03/01/2007 12:56:24 PM PST by magellan
Financially troubled European airplane manufacturer Airbus has stopped work on the freight version of its new A380 superjumbo so it can focus more on the troubled passenger version of the aircraft, a spokesman for its parent company said Thursday.
"The work on the freight version of the A380 has just been temporarily cut off ... so that all capacities can be directed at the A380 passenger version," said Michael Hauger, spokesman for the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., in a telephone call from Munich.
Last week, United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) postponed taking delivery on the A380 freight version.
It was the last remaining customer for the freightliner, and UPS said it would decide later this year whether to move ahead with a plan to purchase 10 of the jets or cancel the order completely.
UPS originally ordered the 10 jets in January 2005, with options to buy 10 more in a deal valued at roughly $2.8 billion at list prices.
Airbus spokeswoman Ann de Crozals said the decision to postpone work on the A380F came after the UPS decision.
"Following the rescheduling with UPS, development work on the A380F has been interrupted but the program is still ongoing," de Crozals said. "It's not a decision to stop the program."
There is a new development schedule for the freight version A380F, Hauger said, adding that the company believes there is a sales potential for 400 models of the A380 freight aircraft in the next 20 years.
Toulouse, France-based Airbus is struggling to survive the crippling fallout from a two-year delay to the A380 and the weaker U.S. dollar in which the planes are priced.
Airbus said Wednesday it would shed 4,300 jobs in France, 3,700 in Germany, 1,600 in Britain and 400 in Spain over four years.
De Crozals said no date had been set for work to resume on the freight version of the aircraft.
FedEx Corp. canceled its order for 10 A380s in November, saying Airbus's production problems were threatening its international expansion plans. Instead, it ordered 15 Boeing 777 freighters and options for 15 more in a deal valued at about $3.5 billion at list prices.
Magellan, I added the keyword "AEROSPACE" to your post.
Paleo: Other Shoe Dropping ping.
The Toulouse Goose is cooked.
stick a fork in them
If the problem was the wiring for the passenger compartment and entertainment systems and customer customization, it seems Airbus should be able to make frieghters instead, while these problems are ironed out.
Unless they have been lying all along. But that couldn't be true!
Maybe I'm thinking too much as a former engineer, but given the complexities of these planes, wouldn't it have been better to START with the freighter version? If they would have built the freighter first they could have resolved the airframe issues, flight controls, flight testing, etc., then moved to add the more complex interior modules that account for a large part of their wiring issues.
The Freighter version first would have built confidence into the manufacturing process as it minimized overall exposure.
Oh well - never mind.
Obviously, a freighter would have been simpler to build.
If you want on or off my aerospace ping list, please contact me by Freep mail.
I don't doubt that they've had troubles with the wiring. But I think the real trouble is that it sucks down a lot more fuel than predicted.
There's ususally more mark up on passenger planes, and it would have used different landing gear and wings than the 800 model passenger version. I think what this also means is the A380-900 won't be built for at least a decade if ever, because it would share the heavier wing and landing gear with the A380-800F.
And how are A-400 sales going these days?
Naaah...it makes too much sense. ;^)
How long before UPS cancels their order?
They'll build more than that, but they have to sell over 420 just to break even (according to their numbers) - probably double that to get a decent return on their investment. I wouldn't be surprised if the real numbers aer 500 and 1,000.
For perspective. Boeing didn't deliver its 500'th 747 till 1981 which was 12 years after the first one was delivered. The 1,000'th 747 was delivered in 1993, 24 years after the first delivery. If Boeing sells 500 747-8's both the freigher and passenger models, it will have been an enormous success. I wouldn't be surprised if ten years after the first 747-8 rolls off the line, Boeing announces it is developing Y-3, their replacement for the 777-300, 747-400, 747-8, and A380-800 based on technologies developed for the 787 and 737 replacement. Such a plane would be structurally much lighter than the A380 or 747 and have twin engines. The massive improvement in CASM and cost per ton mile would dry up orders for the A380 well before it reaches a rate of return on capital equal to US T-Bills.
Airbus must not be willing to return the deposit money originally put down on over 30 A300-600F's. The deposits were converted to 10 A380-800F's.
Fact is, nobody seemed to *want* the A380-800F. There were some nibbles, but only UPS and FedEx committed, and FedEx backed out first. They've still got interest on the -800 passenger version from Middle Eastern and Asian airlines that want to use them on medium-length high-density routes, and Qantas. Not to mention, of course, the state-dominated European airlines that'll be forced to order some of the things to show solidarity.
I think it'll enter commercial service, and it'll probably be a mild "success"--a couple of hundred of them flying around for airlines like Emirates and Singapore. But at this point I don't see how they can ever hope to break even with it, if Paleo's figures are correct. It'll be a technological showpiece and one hell of a museum exhibit, but not a whole lot more.
If the entire A380 program ever needed a code name, I've got the perfect one: