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18th February 2019, Leiden

Airbus to end A380 production

Emirates is reducing its A380 orderbook by 39 aircraft. © Maarten Visser

Emirates is reducing its A380 orderbook by 39 aircraft. © Maarten Visser

Reporting profits of EUR 63.7 billion for 2018, compared to EUR 59 billion in 2017 – mainly reflecting a record in commercial aircraft deliveries – Airbus CEO Tom Enders announced last week that his company is to cease deliveries of its flagship A380 in 2021.

Emirates is reducing its A380 orderbook by 39 aircraft, and just 14 of the luxury passenger planes – dubbed the Rolls-Royce of the skies and capable of carrying up to 600 passengers – remain to be delivered.

The A380 programme, which is estimated to have cost £19.4 billion, has never managed to turn a profit and only last year, two Airbus A380 jets were broken up for parts after being retired from service by Singapore Airlines.

Many of the techniques and processes developed for the A380 programme, however, including advanced composites, have transferred to other Airbus planes, such as the long-range, twin-engine wide-body Airbus A350 XWB which has been produced since 2010.

The decision by Airbus to adopt a predominantly composite fuselage, as well as wings and empennage, was partly in response to Boeing’s first move with the B787 Dreamliner, as well as lessons learned from the development of the A380, and cemented the position of composites in the commercial aerospace sector.

The body of each A350 XWB is now 53% composite based, and each is worth US$ 4.8 million in revenues to composite materials leader Hexcel alone. Airbus partner Premium Aerotec builds the A350 XWB’s forward fuselage in Germany.

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