A report indicates that Airbus’s Commercial Aircraft business came very close to meeting its target for commercial aircraft deliveries in 2018.

Normally, the Supply Chain Matters blog dedicates a blog highlighting both Airbus and Boeing commercial aircraft production performance at the close of each quarter and the full year. Increasingly we have observed that the timetables for the sharing of such data have extended beyond the quarter closing. Thus, for full-year 2018 performance, the numbers were not going to be available until mid-January. Airbus A320neo airplane

Both companies are extremely sensitive to operational delivery performance because there is a lot at stake relative to investor and industry reporting. The end-of-year number further provides bragging rights as to the overall best operational performer for the year. In announcing year-end 2017 delivery performance, both companies claimed that they exceeded annual performance targets.

The reason is likely very obvious to many of our readers with seasoned manufacturing and supply chain management experience. Ongoing shortages of key components, unplanned delays or snafu’s in a very tight manufacturing schedule cause the classic hockey-stick of semi-completed product queued toward shipping in the final month or final week of the quarter. The year 2018 presented both of these manufacturers with these specific challenges, each having upwards of a hundred semi-completed aircraft parked on factory runways awaiting a completed engine or key component.

This week however, both Bloomberg, citing sources with knowledge, is reporting that Airbus came nail-bitingly close to meeting its reduced target for commercial aircraft deliveries in 2018.  According to the report, the European aerospace provider delivered aircraft topping the 790 mark for the year but falling short of the revised goal of 800 aircraft deliveries in 2018.

At the close of Q3, Airbus had delivered just over 500 aircraft, thus in order to meet the full-year goal, the delivery rate in Q4 had to exceed 300 aircraft, nearly 50 percent more than all aircraft delivered in Q3. For 2018, the company dedicated three globally located production lines toward A320 family single aisle aircraft production, each of which producing 10 aircraft per month. A fourth assembly line converted from a previous A380 production facility in Hamburg began production assembly operations in June  but remains in ramp-up to the 10 aircraft per month goal.

If indeed Airbus came as close as reported by Bloomberg, that is quite an accomplishment given all of the considerable supply network constraints that occurred during 2018, especially in working closely with  CFM International and Pratt & Whitney on the catch-up delivery plans for new engines.

Key New Bookings

Airbus itself announced this week that U.S. airline JetBlue Airways has firmed up an order for 60 A220-300 aircraft, the larger model of the former Bombardier C-Series aircraft line that Airbus acquired. The company also firmed up the order of 60 A220’s from new airline start-up Moxy, to be headed by former JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman.  Both orders were completed at the close of 2018 on December 31.

The JetBlue order represents the second major U.S. airline attracted to the A220, the other being Delta Airlines that has just taken delivery of its first A220 aircraft for operational service.

Similar to Delta, the JetBlue and Moxy orders will be scheduled to be produced in a newly designed facility adjacent to the existing Mobile Alabama A320 production facility. Construction of that facility is scheduled to begin this month.

According to Airbus, the order book for the newly launched A220 has reached 500 aircraft to-date.


Supply Chain Matters will feature a full commentary on both Airbus and Boeing 2018 operational performance once all the details are shared by each manufacturer.


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