Airbus is contemplating the remarkable industrial feat of building more than 60 A320 Family aircraft a month.
Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy told the European airliner manufacturer’s annual “Innovation Days” media briefing on Thursday that a healthy order backlog likely to be sustained by growing demand for air travel in the Asia Pacific would justify the rate increase.
“I, for one, am looking for a rate over 60,” Leahy, Airbus’s chief salesman for the past two two decades, told journalists.
Currently, Airbus is building A320 series aircraft at the rate of 42 a month, with already announced plans to increase this to 50 a month in early 2017. Airbus chief operating officer Tom Williams said the earliest a rate of 60+ aircraft a month could be achieved would be in 2018, saying the key challenge in achieving such a high rate would be ensuring the program’s 7,500 suppliers, but in particular the engine manufacturers, could ramp up to the increased levels of production required. Already 50 aircraft a month meant a “drumbeat” of one A320 series aircraft leaving Airbus’s factories every six and a half working hours, Williams said.
Airbus A320 Family production is centred on final assembly lines in Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany. Four aircraft a month are also assembled in Airbus’s Tianjing, China, plant, while a fourth A320 Family final assembly line is being established in Mobile, Alabama – the first major components for an A320 Family aircraft to be assembled in Mobile, an A321 for jetBlue, departed Hamburg via ship on May 29.
Airbus had over 5,100 A320 Family aircraft on order at the end of April, including 99 A320neo aircraft for the Qantas Group’s Jetstar operations.