Airbus A380 - Manufacturing Process Redefined

Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 5057 , Published on 23 July 2011
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How difficult it should be to build a structure which has a floor space of 5100 sq ft ? Fairly simple right. But then how difficult it would be if this structure is supposed to fly in the air ? Pretty complex stuff right. Yes we are talking about the worlds largest commercial aeroplane which is in service now i.e., A380. The A380 is indeed an engineering marvel and the process which has been incorporated to build these is again a first in the industry. So we try to figure out what goes behind in building the worlds largest airliner in history. A380 Airbus - Manufacturing a Giant

The A380 manufactured by Airbus, an European Corporation based out of Toulouse is a double deck, wide bodied, 4 engine jet liner. It currently holds the record of the largest passenger aeroplane and can carry 853 passengers in a single class seating. It can fly upto a maximum of 15200 km on a single refuel and it is also touted to be one of the quietest airline currently in service. Further the way this airline is built is indeed an operational marvel though it led to delays initially.

Just putting together the aircraft of such big size is indeed problematic. And it is difficult to put together a manufacturing facility so big that it can accommodate the manufacturing of all the parts at one place. That's why they came up with this idea of manufacturing various parts at different places but assembling them at one place. Various parts are built all over Europe such as

1. Wings are built in Wales
2. Fuselage parts, cabin installation, painting and  Tailfin in Germany
3. Nose and Fuselage in France
4. Rudder  in Spain

Once these parts are manufactured they are transported to Toulouse in France where the final assembly takes place. This shows the complexity of such a process. One part which mismatches from rest of the parts can jeopardise the manufacturing of an entire aeroplane. The process initially led to delays but it is indeed a great idea once it stabilises.

The wings are manufactured at a factory in Wales. Each wings comprises of around 32000 parts which suggests the complexity of making each part of A380. Once the wings are completed they are loaded into a barge and bought to Mostyn before they are put into a roll on / roll off ship for transportation to Toulouse. The rear part of fuselage are assembled in Hamburg whereas the vertical tailplane is assembled at Stade. They are then transported to Toulouse. The fuselage is put together at Hamburg which along with wings from Mostyn is sent to France. At France the final fuselage is assembled taking the parts coming in from different parts of Germany

At France the centre wing box and belly fairing are incorporated to the fuselage. The two parts of the nose section which basically contains the cockpit is then assembled. Both the fuselage sections are sent to Pauillac by ferry where it meets the horizontal tailplane which has arrived from Spain. All the components are then taken through barges to Langon from where they begin their final 240 km journey to their final destination. At Toulouse they are finally assembled to form what happens to be the worlds largest airliner. After testing the assembled A380 is flown to Hamburg to have the cabin fitted and painted before delivering it to the customer.


So indeed the manufacturing of such a monstrous plane is a nightmare. Everything has to be precision perfect or it could lead to delays which ultimately affects the bottom-line. The processes actually takes advantages of the best methodologies and is indeed a product which has a mark of almost every country in Europe. This strategy shows how to use the best of every regions which are miles apart without compromising on the quality.




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