Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Airbus S.A.S. is a commercial aircraft manufacturer based in Toulouse, France. It was incorporated in 2001 under French law as a simplified joint stock company or "S.A.S." (Société par Actions Simplifiée). Airbus was formerly known as Airbus Industrie and is commonly named just Airbus.
Airbus employs around 40,000 people in several European countries. Final assembly is carried out in Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany, although construction occurs at a number of plants across Europe.
Airbus Industrie began as a consortium of European aviation firms to compete with American companies such as Boeing and McDonnell Douglas. In the 1960s European aircraft manufacturers competed as much with each other than the American giants. In the mid-1960s tentative negotitations commenced regarding a European collaborative approach began.
In September 1967 the British, French and German governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to start development of the 300 seat Airbus A300. This was the second major joint aircraft program in Europe, following the Concorde, for which no ongoing consortium was devised. An earlier announcement had been made in July 1967 but had been complicated by the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC). The British government refused to back its proposed competitor, a development of the BAC 1-11 and instead supported the Airbus aircraft.
In the months following this agreement both the French and British governments expressed doubts about the aircraft. Another problem was the requirement for a new engine (to be developed by Rolls-Royce, the RB207). In December 1968 the French and British partner companies, Sud Aviation and Hawker Siddeley proposed a revised configuration, the 250 seat Airbus A250. Renamed the A300B the aircraft would not require new engines, reducing development costs.
In 1969 the British government shocked its partners by withdrawing from the project. Given the participation by Hawker Siddeley up to that point, France and Germany were reluctant to take over their wing design. Thus the British company was allowed to continue as a major subcontractor.
Airbus Industrie was formally set up in 1970 following an agreement between Aerospatiale (France) and Deutsche Aerospace (Germany) (joined by CASA of Spain in 1971). Each company would deliver its sections as fully equipped, ready to fly items. The name "Airbus" was taken from a nonproprietary term used by the airline industry in the 1960s to refer to a commercial aircraft of a certain size and range, for this term was acceptable to the French linguistically.
In 1972 the A300 made its maiden flight and the first production model, the A300B2 entered service in 1974. Initially the success of the consortium was poor but by 1979 there were 81 aircraft in service. It was the launch of the A320 in 1981 that guaranteed Airbus as a major player in the aircraft market - the aircraft had over 400 orders before it first flew, compared to 15 for the A300 in 1972.
In 1977 the British partner in Airbus, Hawker Siddeley, was merged with BAC to form British Aerospace (BAe). In 1979 BAe (now BAE SYSTEMS) formally re-joined the consortium, with 38 percent stake each for the Germans and French, 20 percent for the British, and the Spanish firm with four percent.
It was a fairly loose alliance but that changed in 2000 when DASA, Aerospatiale and CASA merged to form EADS and in 2001 when BAE and EADS formed the Airbus Integrated Company to coincide with the development of the new Airbus A380, which will seat 555 passengers and be the world's largest commercial passenger jet when it enters service in 2006.
The Airbus product line started with the A300, the world's first twin-aisle, twin-engined aircraft. A shorter variant of the A300 is known as the A310. Building on its success, airbus launched the A320 with its innovative fly-by-wire control system. The A320 was a great commercial success. The A318 and A319 are shorter derivatives with some of the latter under construction for the corporate biz-jet market (Airbus Corporate Jet). A stretched version is known as the A321 and is proving competitive with later models of the Boeing 737.
The longer range products, the twin-jet A330 and the four-jet A340, have efficient wings, enhanced by winglets. The Airbus A340-500 has an operating range of 13,921 kilometres (8,650 miles), the second longest range of any commercial jet after the Boeing 777-200LR (range of 17,446 km or 9420 nautical miles). These are competing strongly with the equivalent Boeing products and may partly explain the cessation of airliner production at Lockheed in 1983 and the take-over of McDonnell Douglas by the surviving US builder of long-distance airliners, Boeing, in 1996-1997. The company is particularly proud of its use of fly-by-wire technologies and the common cockpit and systems in use throughout the aircraft family, which make it much easier to train crew.
|Aircraft||Description||Seats||Launch date||1st flight||1st delivery|
|A300||2 engine, twin aisle,||250-361||May 1969||Oct 1972||May 1974|
|A310||2 engine, twin aisle, modified A300||200-280||July 1978||Apr 1982||Dec 1985|
|A318||2 engine, single aisle, shortened 6.17m from A320||107||Apr 1999||Jan 2002||Oct 2003|
|A319||2 engine, single aisle, shortened 3.77m from A320||124||June 1993||Jan 1995||Apr 1996|
|A320||2 engine, single aisle||150||Mar 1984||Feb 1987||Mar 1988|
|A321||2 engine, single aisle, lengthened 6.94m from A320||185||Nov 1989||Mar 1993||Jan 1994|
|A330||2 engine, twin aisle||253-295||June 1987||Nov 1992||Dec 1993|
|A340||4 engine, twin aisle||261-380||June 1987||Oct 1991||Jan 1993|
|A350||2 engine, twin aisle||250-300||Dec 2004||2009||2010|
|A380||4 engine, twin aisle, double deck||555-840||2000||2005||2006|
In January 1999 Airbus established a separate company, Airbus Military S.A.S., to undertake development and production of a turboprop powered military transport aircraft (the Airbus Military A400M.) The A400M is being developed by several NATO members, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, and the UK, as an alternative to the C-130 Hercules. Expansion in the military aircraft market will reduce, but not negate, Airbus's exposure to the effects of cyclical downturns in civil aviation.
Competition with Boeing
Boeing has continually protested over state support for Airbus from the governments of the partner nations, most recently in July 2004. Harry Stonecipher (Boeing CEO) accused Airbus of abusing a 1992 non-binding agreement covering launch aid. Airbus is given launch aid from European governments which it must repay through strict commercial contracts, and contends that this is fully compliant with the 1992 agreement and WTO rules. The agreement allows up to 33 per cent of the program cost to be met through government loans which are to be fully repaid within 17 years with interest and royalties. These loans are held at a minimum interest rate equal to the cost of government borrowing plus 0.25%, which would be below market rates available to Airbus without government support .
Airbus also argues that some of the pork barrel military contracts awarded to Boeing (the second largest U.S. defence contractor) are in effect a form of subsidy (see the Boeing KC-767 military contracting scandal). The significant U.S. government support of technology development via NASA also provides significant support to Boeing, as does the large tax breaks offered to Boeing which are in violation of the 1992 agreement and WTO rules. In its recent products such as the 787, Boeing has also been offered substantial support from local and state governments.
The latest scramble involving Airbus and Boeing surround the American company’s latest offering, the 787 Dreamliner. EU trade officials are questioning the funding provided by the Japanese Government and Japanese companies for the launch of the 787.
For the first time in its 33-year history, Airbus delivered more jet-powered airliners in 2003 than Boeing. After losing supremacy to America in the battle of commercial airliner sales in the 1950s and 1960s, Europe seems to have regained the upper hand. Industry analysts widely attribute this to Airbus’s more efficient product line, compared to many of Boeing's older designs; the 737 for example still uses components designed in the 1950s. The 747 was designed in the late 1960s, and the 757 and 767 were conceived in the late 1970s. Boeing claims the Boeing 777 has outsold its Airbus counterparts, which include the entire A340 series, as well as the A330-300. The smaller A330-200 competes with the 767, and has dominated that class until the sales introduction of the 787.
Currently there are around 3,800 Airbus aircraft in service, with Airbus winning more than 50 percent of aircraft orders in recent years. But Airbus products are still outnumbered 6 to 1 by in-service Boeings (there are over 4,000 Boeing 737s alone in service, for example). This however is indicative of historical success. It does not take into account Airbus's late entry into the modern jet airliner market (1972 vs. 1958 for Boeing) and that Airbus's sales are almost completely civilian (as compared to the numerous Boeing aircraft in US and other countries' military service). Airbus has also won a greater share of orders and delivered more aircraft in both 2003 and 2004.
International manufacturing presence
Airbus, however, has a number of other plants in different European countries, reflecting its foundation as a consortium. An original solution to the problem of moving aircraft parts between the different factories and the assembly plants is the use of "Beluga" specially enlarged jets, capable of carrying entire sections of fuselage of Airbus aircraft. This solution is also being investigated by Boeing, who are considering producing an enlarged version of their 747 aircraft to transport the components of the 7E7. An exception to this scheme is the A380, whose fuselage and wings are too large for sections to be carried by the Beluga. Large A380 parts are brought by ship to Bordeaux, and then transported to the Toulouse assembly plant by a specially enlarged road.
North America is an important region to Airbus in terms of both aircraft sales and suppliers. 2,000 of the total of approximately 5,300 Airbus jetliners sold by Airbus around the world, representing every aircraft in its product line from the 107-seat A318 to the 565-passenger A380, are ordered by North American customers. US contractors supporting an estimated 120,000 jobs earned estimated $5.5 billion (2003) worth of business. For example, the A380 has 51% American content in terms of work share value.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details