Airbus is considering slowing down the production rate of the A400M military transport aircraft to lengthen activity at the final assembly line in Seville and gain time to get new customers. The company has a backlog of 174 aircraft and has delivered 46 units.
According to the latest intercompany committee document, where trade unions report on the outcome of a meeting with the company's management team, "for the A400M, it is necessary to define the number of aircraft that each of the client nations can accept, and adjust production rate to demand."
The document notes that there is already a consensus opinion that Airbus "will not deliver aircraft to the maximum of its industrial capacity, although it is still too early to say” how many aircraft the annual manufacturing target will be set. Due to the vicissitudes of the program, the factory has not yet reached its full production rate – in theory, Sevilla it can make 24 aircraft per year, but has not exceeded 14 to date.
C295 Production Slowing
What is perfectly clear is the calendar of the C295, the medium-sized military transport aircraft that also is assembled and manufactured in Seville. "In 2017, the market has been very weak, and the delivery rate will be reduced to eight airplanes; the rate will be the same in 2018, and will increase to nine in 2019.”
An Airbus spokesman said that “As we previously stated, the C295 planned delivery rate was reduced to 10 aircraft this year and next in view of the recent weak market in that sector. Although we secured the Canada SAR order for 16 aircraft in December last year, the effect of that at the Final Assembly Line does not begin to come through until 2019.” – Editor
From that year, demand is expected to pick up and, meanwhile, Airbus continues to develop new capabilities for this model, such as a version for helicopter refueling, another version of fire-fighting as well as a gunship version, among others.
With these forecasts for the A400M and C295, it will be necessary to "readjust workload figures" in the template, as happened when the production rate of superjumbo A380 was reduced, requiring the relocation of about 1,000 people. The unions report that for this Airbus will "prioritize internal mobility as well as flexibility measures".
A380 Also Reducing Production
The A380 superjumbo, the world’s largest airliner, (which is assembled in Toulouse and has a share of its suppliers in Andalusia) continues to reduce its production rate. "Due to the problems inherent in the program, mainly the lack of orders, it is necessary to reduce the production rate to 16 units in 2017, 12 in 2018 and eight in 2019".
With these figures, the prospects for the subcontracting companies that depend on the production chain of this aircraft are not positive.