Airbus has made the decision to convert A380 production facilities in Toulouse to support a new, highly-digital, A321neo production platform to support the large demand for the aircraft.
From 2022 the A380 production line will be equipped with a digitally-enabled production line, to modernise the existing A320 production system in Toulouse. Additionally the new facilities will allow Airbus to counter A321neo production snags, as a result of growing cabin offerings and extended range variants.
Airbus says that the new facilities will provide “more flexibility” for A321 production, though the amount of aircraft produced in Toulouse will remain flat.
In addition to the only European A321 production site being Hamburg Finkenwerder, Airbus also manufacturers the A321 in Mobile, Alabama in the United States of America. Toulouse was selected to accommodate the new production system due to its time to market, investment cost, available floor space and access to an existing supply network within Europe.
“We are enjoying an unprecedented high demand for our winning A320neo Family and especially its A321 Long Range (LR) and Xtra Long Range (XLR) derivatives. In order to optimise the industrial flow, we have decided to increase our global A321 production capacity and flexibility as well as to establish a next generation Final Assembly Line in Toulouse.”Michael Schoellhorn, Airbus Chief Operating Officer
The A320neo Family is the world’s best selling single-aisle aircraft, accumulating over 7,100 orders from over 110 customers around the world since its launch in 2010. Flight Global reports that the A321neo accounts for 45% of A320neo Family orders recorded by Airbus.
From 2023 Airbus will produce the A321XLR; which will provide airlines a range of 4,700 nautical miles and 30 percent lower fuel burn per seat, compared to the previous generation competitor aircraft.
To accommodate the longer flight times, Airbus has offered greater cabin configurations; including the Airbus Cabin Flex option, which has been responsible for the production snags at Hamburg Finkenwerder.
With the aim to iron out production hurdles, and to support the enormous demand for the A320neo Family, the decision to re-purpose the A380 line is viewed positively, especially with discussions about production rate increases in the future.
As part of the announcement, Airbus has informed its unions that the new site will be set up.