Airbus is slashing the production rate of its A400M airlifter to just eight aircraft per year from 2020, as part of a wider drive to re-baseline the programme in the face of continued delays and penalty payments.
The move, announced by the company on 7 March, will see the final assembly line (FAL) in Seville, Spain, turn out less than a third of the 30 aircraft a year it was supposed to be rolling out at this stage in the programme under an accelerated production rate announced in April 2015.
“Airbus is now entering into a formal social process with staff representatives at European and national levels to analyse potential implications for the company’s workforce and to start joint mitigation efforts,” it said in a statement that also announced a reduction in the production rate of its flagship A380 commercial airliner.
Ever since the first customer A400Ms started rolling off the FAL in 2013, Airbus DS has struggled to meet its targets. The company delivered just two of four planned aircraft in 2013, and fell short of its target of 13 for 2014 with just eight handed over.
In 2015 the then head of A400M manufacturing, Andreas Thürnagel, told the company's in-house On Air magazine that the rate of production had been raised from 1.25 to 2.5 aircraft per month in an attempt to address the backlog in deliveries that had built up as a result of what the company called ‘supplier problems’. “It’s time to change gear and to go into ramp-up mode,” he was quoted as saying. “We need to speed up production and deliveries while developing the additional capabilities required by our customers; this won’t be easy.”
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